Oxidative stress, a central mediator of cardiovascular disease, results in loss of the prosthetic haem group of soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC), preventing its activation by nitric oxide (NO). Here we introduce Apo-sGC mice expressing haem-free sGC. Apo-sGC mice are viable and develop hypertension. The haemodynamic effects of NO are abolished, but those of the sGC activator cinaciguat are enhanced in apo-sGC mice, suggesting that the effects of NO on smooth muscle relaxation, blood pressure regulation and inhibition of platelet aggregation require sGC activation by NO. Tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-induced hypotension and mortality are preserved in apo-sGC mice, indicating that pathways other than sGC signalling mediate the cardiovascular collapse in shock. Apo-sGC mice allow for differentiation between sGC-dependent and -independent NO effects and between haem-dependent and -independent sGC effects. Apo-sGC mice represent a unique experimental platform to study the in vivo consequences of sGC oxidation and the therapeutic potential of sGC activators.