The nitric oxide (NO) signalling pathway is altered in cardiovascular diseases, including systemic and pulmonary hypertension, stroke, and atherosclerosis. The vasodilatory properties of NO have been exploited for over a century in cardiovascular disease, but NO donor drugs and inhaled NO are associated with significant shortcomings, including resistance to NO in some disease states, the development of tolerance during long-term treatment, and non-specific effects such as post-translational modification of proteins. The development of pharmacological agents capable of directly stimulating the NO receptor, soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC), is therefore highly desirable. The benzylindazole compound YC-1 was the first sGC stimulator to be identified; this compound formed a lead structure for the development of optimized sGC stimulators with improved potency and specificity for sGC, including CFM-1571, BAY 41-2272, BAY 41-8543, and BAY 63-2521. In contrast to the NO- and haem-independent sGC activators such as BAY 58-2667, these compounds stimulate sGC activity independent of NO and also act in synergy with NO to produce anti-aggregatory, anti-proliferative, and vasodilatory effects. Recently, aryl-acrylamide compounds were identified independent of YC-1 as sGC stimulators; although structurally dissimilar to YC-1, they have a similar mode of action and promote smooth muscle relaxation. Pharmacological stimulators of sGC may be beneficial in the treatment of a range of diseases, including systemic and pulmonary hypertension, heart failure, atherosclerosis, erectile dysfunction, and renal fibrosis. An sGC stimulator, BAY 63-2521, is currently in clinical development as an oral therapy for patients with pulmonary hypertension. It has demonstrated efficacy in a proof-of-concept study, reducing pulmonary vascular resistance and increasing cardiac output from baseline. A full, phase 2 trial of BAY 63-2521 in pulmonary hypertension is underway.