Beyond an inert oxidation product of nitric oxide (NO) metabolism, current thinking posits a key role for nitrite as a mediator of NO signaling, especially during hypoxia. This concept has been discussed in the context of nitrite serving a role as an endogenous modulator of NO homeostasis, but also from a novel clinical perspective whereby nitrite therapy may replenish NO signaling and prevent ischemic tissue injury. Indeed, the relatively rapid translation of studies delineating mechanisms of action to ongoing and planned clinical trials has been critical in fuelling interest in nitrite biology, and several excellent reviews have been written on this topic. In this article we limit our discussions to current concepts and what we feel are questions that remain unanswered within the paradigm of nitrite being a mediator of NO biology. © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.