Although the effects of exercise training on vascular function have been well studied, less is known about the effects of acute exercise bouts. This synthesis summarizes and integrates knowledge derived from papers relating acute impacts of exercise on artery function, specifically endothelial function assessed by flow-mediated dilatation (FMD). We propose that an immediate decrease in FMD ("nadir") occurs soon after exercise cessation and that this is followed by a (supra)normalization response. The magnitude of the nadir and (supra)normalization and duration of this biphasic pattern of response appears to be influenced by numerous factors, including the nature of the exercise stimulus (e.g., type, duration, intensity), the subject population (e.g., trained vs. untrained), and various methodological factors. The impact of these factors on the biphasic pattern are most likely mediated through stimuli that underpin altered FMD postexercise, including shear and oxidative stress, changes in arterial diameter, and antioxidant status. We propose that a combination of these stimuli act synergistically to balance the vasomotor responses postexercise. Finally, we discuss the potential (clinical) relevance of the biphasic response after acute exercise, as the immediate nadir may represent an essential response for subsequent training-induced adaptations but may also represent a transient period of increased cardiovascular risk leading to the "exercise paradox.". © 2013 the American Physiological Society.