Nitinol (nickel-titanium) alloys exhibit a combination of properties which make these alloys particularly suited for self-expanding stents. Some of these properties cannot be found in engineering materials used for stents presently. This article explains the fundamental mechanism of shape memory and superelasticity, and how they relate to the characteristic performance of self-expanding stents. Nitinol stents are manufactured to a size slightly larger than the target vessel size and delivered constrained in a delivery system. After deployment, they position themselves against the vessel wall with a low, "chronic" outward force. They resist outside forces with a significantly higher radial resistive force. Despite the high nickel content of Nitinol, its corrosion resistance and biocompatibility is equal to that of other implant materials. The most common Nitinol stents are listed and described.