At the interface between the innate and adaptive immune systems lies the high-output isoform of nitric oxide synthase (NOS2 or iNOS). This remarkable molecular machine requires at least 17 binding reactions to assemble a functional dimer. Sustained catalysis results from the ability of NOS2 to attach calmodulin without dependence on elevated Ca2+. Expression of NOS2 in macrophages is controlled by cytokines and microbial products, primarily by transcriptional induction. NOS2 has been documented in macrophages from human, horse, cow, goat, sheep, rat, mouse, and chicken. Human NOS2 is most readily observed in monocytes or macrophages from patients with infectious or inflammatory diseases. Sustained production of NO endows macrophages with cytostatic or cytotoxic activity against viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, helminths, and tumor cells. The antimicrobial and cytotoxic actions of NO are enhanced by other macrophage products such as acid, glutathione, cysteine, hydrogen peroxide, or superoxide. Although the high-output NO pathway probably evolved to protect the host from infection, suppressive effects on lymphocyte proliferation and damage to other normal host cells confer upon NOS2 the same protective/destructive duality inherent in every other major component of the immune response.