Many similarities exist between the exogenous nitrates and endothelium-derived relaxing factor, which is nitric oxide or a thiol derivative. Both act by way of guanylate cyclase, which increases intracellular concentrations of cyclic guanosine monophosphate, resulting in smooth muscle cell relaxation and antiplatelet effects. Thiols may be important in the biotransformation of exogenous nitrates and other intracellular processes involving nitric oxide. As such, important interactions might be expected between nitrates and endothelium-dependent processes that involve nitric oxide. This review explores the mechanisms of action, biologic effects and potential interactions between nitrates and endothelium-derived relaxing factor.