The objective of the present study was to characterize and analyze the Brazilian literature on nursing practice in emergency care at health services in Brazil. This systematic literature review was performed using the following keywords: emergency nursing, nurse’s role, emergency medical services, primary health care and health services; and resulted in 18 articles. The databases used were LILACS, MEDLINE and BDENF, between 2003 and 2008. Results show that most studies are performed at emergency hospitals, investigations emphasize on aspects related to nursing workers’ health, and only a few studies focus specifically on nursing practice in the other components established by the National Policy for Emergency Care. These results highlight the need for further research with a view to identify and discuss on the limits and possibilities related nursing knowledge and practice at different health care levels, which would contribute to forming a health care network in which one service complements the action of another by means of emergency care mechanisms that have been organized and agreed upon.