Abstract Nitric oxide plays an important role in various biological processes, such as neurotransmission, blood pressure control, immunological responses, and antioxidant action. The control of its local concentration, which is crucial for obtaining the desired effect, can be achieved with exogenous NO-carriers. Coordination compounds, in particular ruthenium(III) and (II) amines, are good NO-captors and -deliverers. The chemical and photochemical properties of several ruthenium amine complexes as NO-carriers in vitro and in vivo have been reviewed. These nitrosyl complexes can stimulate mice hippocampus slices, promote the lowering of blood pressure in several in vitro and in vivo models, and control Trypanosoma cruzi and Leishmania major infections, and they are also effective against tumor cells in different models of cancer. These complexes can be activated chemically or photochemically, and the observed biological effects can be attributed to the presence of NO in the compound. Their efficiencies are explained on the basis of the [Ru IINO +] 3+/[Ru IINO 0] 2+ reduction potential, the specific rate constant for NO liberation from the [RuNO] 2+ moiety, and the quantum yield of NO release.