Oxidative stress underlies many forms of vascular disease as well as tissue injury following ischemia and reperfusion. The major source of oxidative stress in the artery wall is an NADPH oxidase. This enzyme complex as expressed in vascular cells differs from that in phagocytic leucocytes both in biochemical structure and functions. The crucial flavin-containing catalytic subunits, Nox1 and Nox4, are not found in leucocytes, but are highly expressed in vascular cells and upregulated with vascular remodeling, such as that found in hypertension and atherosclerosis. The difference in catalytic subunits offers the opportunity to develop "vascular specific" NADPH oxidase inhibitors that do not compromise the essential physiological signaling and phagocytic functions carried out by reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. Nitric oxide and targeted inhibitors of NADPH oxidase that block the source of oxidative stress in the vasculature are more likely to prevent the deterioration of vascular function that leads to stroke and heart attack, than are conventional antioxidants. The roles of Nox isoforms in other inflammatory conditions are yet to be explored.