Mesenteric endothelial cell function and immunoreactivity for substance P and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) were examined in control rats and rats treated with capsaicin as neonates to destroy primary afferent nerves. Endothelial vasodilator function was examined pharmacologically in the methoxamine raised-tone isolated perfused mesenteric arterial bed. Endothelial immunoreactivity for substance P and NOS was examined at the ultrastructural level by electron-microscopic immunocytochemistry. The endothelium-dependent vasodilators acetylcholine and adenosine 5’-triphosphate elicited dose-dependent relaxations which were not different between control and capsaicin-treated rats. Dose-dependent relaxations to endothelium-independent vasodilators, calcitonin gene-related peptide and sodium nitroprusside, were also unchanged by capsaicin treatment. Positive staining for substance P was detected in 25% of endothelial cells in both control and capsaicin-treated rats. Positive staining for NOS was detected in 50% of endothelial cells in control rats, and this was not changed by capsaicin treatment. These results confirm that endothelial substance P is independent of substance P contained in sensory nerves. Long-term sensory denervation does not produce changes in endothelium-dependent or -independent relaxation, or in the number of endothelial cells showing positive labelling for substance P and NOS in rat mesenteric arteries.