We discuss the interplay between IR and UV divergences in vacuum configurations with open and unoriented strings. We establish a general one-to-one correspondence between anomalies and R-R tadpoles associated to sectors with non-trivial Witten index. The result does not require any supersymmetry to be preserved by the configuration. Under very mild conditions of supersymmetry, a similar correspondence is found between NS-NS tadpoles and RG-flows in gauge theories on D-branes and O-planes. We briefly comment on the AdS/CFT counterpart of the results. MG9 Proceedings: submitted to World Scientific on January 12,2001.