Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are now appreciated to play several important roles in a number of biological processes and regulate cell physiology and function. ROS are a heterogeneous chemical class that includes radicals, such as superoxide ion (O2(•-)), hydroxyl radical (OH(•)) and nitric oxide (NO(•)), and non-radicals, such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), singlet oxygen ((1)O2), hypochlorous acid (HOCl), and peroxynitrite (NO3 (-)). In the cardiovascular system, besides playing a critical role in the development and progression of vasculopathies and other important pathologies such as congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis and thrombosis, ROS also regulate physiological processes. Evidence from a wealth of cardiovascular research studies suggests that ROS act as second messengers and play an essential role in vascular homeostasis by influencing discrete signal transduction pathways in various systems and cell types. They are produced throughout the vascular system, regulate differentiation and contractility of vascular smooth muscle cells, control vascular endothelial cell proliferation and migration, mediate platelet activation and haemostasis, and significantly contribute to the immune response. Our understanding of ROS chemistry and cell biology has evolved to the point of realizing that different ROS have distinct and important roles in cardiovascular physiology. This review will outline sources, functions and molecular mechanisms of action of different ROS in the cardiovascular system and will describe their emerging role in healthy cardiovascular physiology and homeostasis.