The essential role of nitric oxide (NO) in normal physiology and its involvement in the pathophysiology of a variety of diseases render the compound an attractive therapeutic target. NO donor drugs are used in the treatment of hypotension and angina where abnormalities in the L-arginine-nitric oxide pathway have been implicated. Overproduction of NO has been associated with a number of disease states including septic shock, inflammatory diseases, diabetes, ischaemia-reperfusion injury, adult respiratory distress syndrome, neurodegenerative diseases and allograft rejection. NO is produced by a group of enzymes, the nitric oxide synthases. Selective inhibition of the inducible isoform is one approach to the treatment of diseases where there is an overproduction of NO; an alternative approach is to scavenge or remove excess NO. A number of NO scavenger molecules have demonstrated pharmacological activity in disease models, particularly models of septic shock. These include organic molecules such as PTIO (2-phenyl-4,4,5,5-tetramethylimidazoline-1-oxyl-3-oxide), haemoglobin derivatives such as the pyridoxalated haemoglobin polyoxyethylene conjugate (PHP), low molecular weight iron compounds of diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid and diethyldithiocarbamate and ruthenium polyaminocarboxylate complexes. The data suggest a potential role for NO scavengers in the treatment of NO mediated disease.