Delivery of oxygen to tissues is the primary function of the cardiovascular system. NO, a gasotransmitter that signals predominantly through protein S-nitrosylation to form S-nitrosothiols (SNOs) in target proteins, operates coordinately with oxygen in mammalian cellular systems. From this perspective, SNO-based signaling may have evolved as a major transducer of the cellular oxygen-sensing machinery that underlies global cardiovascular function. Here we review mechanisms that regulate S-nitrosylation in the context of its essential role in “systems-level” control of oxygen sensing, delivery, and utilization in the cardiovascular system, and we highlight examples of aberrant S-nitrosylation that may lead to altered oxygen homeostasis in cardiovascular diseases. Thus, through a bird’s-eye view of S-nitrosylation in the cardiovascular system, we provide a conceptual framework that may be broadly applicable to the functioning of other cellular systems and physiological processes and that illuminates new therapeutic promise in cardiovascular medicine.