Nitrite, in equilibrium with free nitrous acid (FNA), can inhibit both aerobic and anaerobic growth of microbial communities through bactericidal activities that have considerable potential for control of microbial growth in a range of water systems. There has been much focus on the effect of nitrite / FNA on anaerobic metabolism and so, to enhance understanding of the metabolic impact of nitrite / FNA on aerobic metabolism, a study was undertaken with a model denitrifying bacterium Paracoccus denitrificans PD1222. Extracellular nitrite inhibits aerobic growth of P. denitrificans in a pH dependent manner that is likely to be a result of both nitrite and free nitrous acid (FNA) (pKa = 3.25) and subsequent reactive nitrogen oxides generated from the intracellular passage of FNA into P. denitrificans. Increased expression of a gene encoding a flavohemoglobin protein (Fhp) (Pden_1689) was observed in response to extracellular nitrite. Construction and analysis of a deletion mutant established the Fhp to be involved in endowing nitrite / FNA resistance at high extracellular nitrite concentrations. Global transcriptional analysis confirmed nitrite-dependent expression of fhp and indicated that P. denitrificans expressed a number of stress response systems associated with protein, DNA and lipid repair. It is therefore suggested that nitrite causes a pH-dependent stress response that is due to the production of associated reactive nitrogen species, such as NO from the internalisation of FNA.