Background: The aim of this review was to explore the current literature about working as a nurse in the emergency department (ED) during a disaster. Nurses play an important role in caring for patients that present to the ED following a disaster. While there is a great deal of literature written about disasters and disaster response, little has been written from the emergency nursing perspective. Methods: Literature was identified through electronic databases from 2000 to 2011. Articles were reviewed if they provided discussion relevant to nursing in the ED during a disaster. Results: 18 articles met the criteria. Five themes emerged from the review. There were two key findings: changes from a 'normal' working day to a disaster; and the preparedness of nurses working in the ED during a disaster. Conclusions: The literature highlights concern about the preparedness of ED nurses for disaster response and the capacity of nurses to transition to working in a disaster situation.