Vascular endothelial cells release dilatory compounds like nitric oxide and prostacyclin, as well as contractile factors like endothelin-1 (ET-1). We investigated the interaction of ET-1 with nitric-oxide-mediated dilation in cannulated pressurized (75 mm Hg) arterioles from rat cremaster muscle (180 ± 3 µm). Arterioles constricted spontaneously to 101 ± 3 µm, while ET-1 (0.4 n M)increased constriction to 78 ± 3 µm. Acetylcholine, an endothelium-dependent nitric-oxide-mediated vasodilator induced a dose-dependent dilation during spontaneous tone. After addition of ET-1, the response to acetylcholine was significantly impaired. Nitroprusside, an endothelium-independent nitric oxide donor, induced a dose-dependent dilation that was almost completely inhibited by ET-1. In contrast, 8-Br-cGMP-induced dilation was unaffected. Thus, ET-1 appears to inhibit nitric-oxide-mediated dilation at the level of cGMP formation or degradation. The effect of ET-1 appears to be specific for nitric oxide as responses to a prostacyclin analogue were impaired at low doses only. The inhibitory effect of ET-1 on nitric-oxide-mediated dilation could be mimicked with high potassium (65 ± 6 µm), but not with phenylephrine (74 ± 8 µm)-induced constriction. These data show a direct inhibitory effect of ET-1 on nitric-oxide-mediated dilation in isolated skeletal muscle arterioles.