The presence of the endothelium reduced the sensitivity of isolated rabbit carotid artery to endogenous norepinephrine released by electrical stimulation of adrenergic nerves or displaced by tyramine and to exogenously applied norepinephrine, phenylephrine and UK 14304. The maximal contractions induced by the selective α<sub>2</sub>-agonist UK 14304 were much more profoundly depressed in arteries with endothelium than those induced by the nonselective α-adrenoceptor agonist norepinephrine or by the selective α<sub>1</sub>-agonist. LY 83583, a cyclic-guanosine-monophosphate (GMP)-lowering agent, abolished the endothelium-dependent depression of tone induced by the agonists and converted the sensitivity of arteries with endothelium to that of endothelium-denuded preparations. M & B 22948, a selective cyclic GMP phospho-diesterase inhibitor, significantly inhibited contractions caused by electrical stimulation of adrenergic nerves, tyramine, norepinephrine and UK 14304 in rings with, but not in those without, endothelium. Yohimbine, an α<sub>2</sub>-adrenoceptor antagonist, increased contractions caused by UK 14304 in rings with endothelium only, but had no significant effect on the contractions caused by exogenously applied norepinephrine or phenylephrine. In the presence of prazosin, an α<sub>1</sub>-blocker, UK 14304 caused minimal relaxation (about 20%) in rings with endothelium only which were inhibited by yohimbine, suggesting a minor role of direct endothelial cell α<sub>2</sub>-mediated release of relaxing factors. The overflow of endogenous norepinephrine caused by electrical stimulation was not affected by treatment with LY 83583 or M & B 22948, suggesting that altering cyclic GMP levels has no major role in prejunctional modulation of norepinephrine release. These findings support the notion that intrinsic levels of cyclic GMP may act as a regulator of adrenergic neurotransmission due primarily to endothelium-derived relaxing factor which is released basally, and to a lesser extent by an activation of endothelial cell α<sub>2</sub>-adrenoceptors.