The NHS in the UK is under increasing pressure as a result of financial and recruitment issues, as well as an ageing population. Nursing has continued to adapt to this challenging time. Over the past few years, the advanced nurse practitioner (ANP) role has been implemented widely in primary and secondary care. However, the ANP role has lacked consistency in scope of practice, training and regulation. This article summarises the development of the ANP role in the UK and internationally, and issues relating to regulation. Globally, ANPs are regulated by one of three different bodies: nationally by central government or a professional body, or locally by employers. In the UK, the role is regulated by local procedures, relying on employers to make decisions about the scope and preparation for practice. Some of the challenges in the UK in relation to ANP regulation are discussed, including variations in scope, organisational constraints and lack of support. These challenges are exacerbated by a lack of role clarity, thereby indicating there is a need to improve regulation of ANPs. The Royal College of Nursing has responded to these challenges by introducing 'credentialing', a system for recording qualifications, skills and experience, but the uptake of this process is yet to be evaluated. Therefore, employers and ANPs should be aware of their collective responsibility for ensuring appropriate role regulation.