2019 Elsevier Ltd Free nitrous acid (FNA), the protonated form of nitrite, has historically been an unwanted substance in wastewater systems due to its inhibition on a wide range of microorganisms. However, in recent years, advanced understanding of FNA inhibitory and biocidal effects on microorganisms has led to the development of a series of FNA-based applications that improve wastewater management practices. FNA has been used in sewer systems to control sewer corrosion and odor; in wastewater treatment to achieve carbon and energy efficient nitrogen removal; in sludge management to improve the sludge reduction and energy recovery; in membrane systems to address membrane fouling; and in wastewater algae systems to facilitate algae harvesting. This paper aims to comprehensively and critically review the current status of FNA-based applications in improving wastewater management. The underlying mechanisms of FNA inhibitory and biocidal effects are also reviewed and discussed. Knowledge gaps and current limitations of the FNA-based applications are identified; and perspectives on the development of FNA-based applications are discussed. We conclude that the FNA-based technologies have great potential for enhancing the performance of wastewater systems; however, further development and demonstration at larger scales are still required for their wider applications.