Cellular redox signalling is mediated by the post-translational modification of proteins in signal-transduction pathways by ROS/RNS (reactive oxygen species/reactive nitrogen species) or the products derived from their reactions. NO is perhaps the best understood in this regard with two important modifications of proteins known to induce conformational changes leading to modulation of function. The first is the addition of NO to haem groups as shown for soluble guanylate cyclase and the newly discovered NO/ cytochrome c oxidase signalling pathway in mitochondria. The second mechanism is through the modification of thiols by NO to form an S-nitrosated species. Other ROS/RNS can also modify signalling proteins although the mechanisms are not as clearly defined. For example, electrophilic lipids, formed as the reaction products of oxidation reactions, orchestrate adaptive responses in the vasculature by reacting with nucleophilic cysteine residues. In modifying signalling proteins ROS/RNS appear to change the overall activity of signalling pathways in a process that we have termed 'redox tone'. In this review, we discuss these different mechanisms of redox cell signalling, and give specific examples of ROS/RNS participation in signal transduction. © 2004 The Biochemical Society.