Nitric oxide (NO) is an endogenous compound, which plays a fundamental role in the modulation of the function of the cardiovascular system, where it induces vasorelaxing and antiplatelet responses, mainly through the stimulation of guanylate cyclase and the increase of cGMP. Many drugs of common, timehonoured clinical use (for example, glycerol trinitrate and all the vasodilator nitrites and nitrates) act via the release of exogenous NO, thus mimicking the effects of the endogenous factor. In the last few years, a revision of the "one-compound-one-target" paradigm has led pharmacologists and pharmaceutical chemists to develop new classes of molecules which combine different pharmacodynamic properties. This innovative pharmacological/pharmaceutical strategy has produced hybrid drugs, with a dual mechanism of action: a) the slow release of nitric oxide and b) another fundamental pharmacodynamic profile. These drugs have been obtained by inserting appropriate NO-donor chemical groups (i.e. nitrate esters, nitrosothiols, etc.), linked to a known drug, by means of a variable spacer moiety. These new pharmacodynamic hybrids present the advantage of combining a basic mechanism of action (for example, cyclooxygenase inhibition, beta-antagonism or ACE inhibition) with a slow release of NO, which may be useful either to reduce adverse side effects (for example, the gastrotoxicity of NSAIDs), or to improve the effectiveness of the drug (for example, conferring direct vasorelaxing and antiplatelet effects on an ACEinhibitor). The aim of this review is to present the chemical features of NO-releasing hybrids of cardiovascular drugs, and to explain the pharmacological improvements obtained by the addition of the NO-donor properties.