It is attractive to explore practical approaches to optimize the photodegraded NO property of TiO₂. Herein, a typical Z-shaped heterojunction C-TiO₂/rGO composed of carbon-doped TiO₂ and reductive graphene oxide (rGO) was constructed to optimize the NO removal efficiency through an in situ one-pot hydrothermal process with glucose as reductant and dopant. The C-TiO₂/rGO (0.11%) composite displays a remarkable NO removal performance of 40.6% under visible light illumination. It was found that the C-TiO₂ nanoparticles were tightly attached to the rGO sheets and had strong interactions with rGO, which induced a positive impact on not only the light absorption and photo-generated charge separation but also the NO adsorption and reactive oxygen species formation, resulting in boosted photodegrade NO activity. As to the photodegrade NO process over the C-TiO₂/rGO, the HO• and O₂•− were the dominant radicals, of which the O₂•− radical originated from the interactions between C-TiO₂ and rGO. We proposed a Z-scheme mechanism to illuminate the advanced photocatalytic activity of C-TiO₂/rGO. This work affords an approach to developing effective photocatalysts in the NO purification field. Copyright © 2022 IOP Publishing Ltd.