Endothelial dysfunction is caused by all the recognized cardiovascular risk factors and has been implicated in the complex processes leading to the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis. Short-term treatment with lipoic acid is shown in the current issue of the British Journal of Pharmacology to improve endothelial function of aortic rings of old rats. The age-related decrease in phosphorylation of nitric oxide synthase and Akt was improved by lipoic acid supplementation. The improved phosphorylation status may have been due to reduced activity of the phosphatase PPA2, associated with decreased levels of endothelial ceramide induced by lipoic acid. Neutral sphingomyelinase activity was also reduced by lipoic acid, which was due, at least in part, to increased glutathione levels in endothelial cells. The favourable antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, metabolic and endothelial effects of lipoic acid shown in rodents, in this and other recently published studies, warrant further assessment of its potential role for prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.