Riociguat (Adempas(®)), an oral first-in-class soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) stimulator, is under global development by Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals Inc. for the treatment of adult patients with inoperable or chronic/persistent chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) and for the treatment of adult patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). The drug directly stimulates sGC in a nitric oxide independent manner, thereby increasing the sensitivity of sGC to nitric oxide, leading to increased cyclic guanosine monophosphate generation (a key signalling molecule involved in regulating vascular tone, proliferation, fibrosis and inflammation). Riociguat is the world's first approved pharmacotherapy for CTEPH, with its first global approval in this indication occurring in Canada. It has subsequently been approved in the USA for the treatment of patients with CTEPH and also received its first global approval in patients with PAH in the USA. It is undergoing regulatory review for these indications in Europe and for use in patients with CTEPH in Japan. This article summarizes the milestones in the development of riociguat, leading to its first global approvals in patients with CTEPH and PAH.