Migraine is a disease for which there is still no defined pathophysiological etiology and few translational models. The organic nitrate nitroglycerin has been in use as an experimental model of migraine in both human and animal studies for several years. The drug produces a number of effects within the head, that includes blood vessels, nerves and brain areas that may produce a response similar to a migraine attack in predisposed subjects. A better understanding of the nature of these changes and how well they parallel a true migraine attack would allow for a translational model to better understand some of the mechanisms involved in the generation of a migraine attack. The present review summarizes the known body of knowledge of nitroglycerin effects evaluated in humans and animals as it relates to potential mechanisms associated with migraine headaches.