Nitric oxide (NO) is a ubiquitous molecule with a myriad of physiological and pathophysiological roles. It has numerous direct and indirect effects on tumour vasculature as both a regulatory and effector molecule. NO affects tumour blood flow through its effects on tumour angiogenesis, vascular tone and vascular permeability, partly via its interaction with vascular endothelial growth factor. In this review, the authors examine the basic tenants of NO biology, the association of NO with tumour progression, and the role NO plays in mediating alterations in vascular functions in tumours. © 2006 Informa UK Ltd.