Red wine contains many compounds that may have therapeutic use, including resveratrol (3,4,5-trihydroxytrans- stilbene). Since resveratrol could be administered both in the diet and as a therapeutic agent, defining appropriate concentrations requires understanding of the pharmacokinetics. Resveratrol absorption is rapid but plasma concentrations are low as it is rapidly and efficiently converted into relatively hydrophilic phase-2 conjugates, and metabolites, which are then rapidly excreted via the urine and bile. Resveratrol is an effective antioxidant in vivo by increasing NO synthesis and also maintaining the reduced intracellular redox state via the thioredoxin system. Further, activation of sirtuins (one class of lysine deacetylases) may mediate the cardiovascular responses shown by resveratrol. Studies on animal models of human disease suggest that resveratrol has the potential to decrease cardiovascular symptoms in patients with myocardial infarction, arrhythmias, hypertension, cardiomyopathies, fibrosis, atherosclerosis, thrombosis and diabetes, but, as yet, human clinical trials are rare. Cardioprotection by resveratrol in rodent models may rely on mechanisms producing pharmacological preconditioning in the heart including reducing reactive oxygen species, improving vasorelaxation and angiogenesis, preventing inflammation and apoptosis, delaying atherosclerosis as well as decreasing cardiovascular remodelling. Interventional studies in humans need to be completed before resveratrol can be considered as a standard therapeutic agent. Therefore, future studies should focus on obtaining the level of evidence required to determine whether resveratrol can be added to the list of evidence-based therapies for cardiovascular diseases that includes renin-angiotensin system inhibitors, β-adrenoceptor antagonists and calcium entry blockers.