N<sup>ω</sup>-hydroxy- L-arginine ( L-NOHA), the stable intermediate of the nitric oxide synthase (NOS)-catalyzed reaction, can induce NO/cyclic GMP-dependent relaxation in the rat aorta, in an endothelium- and NOS-independent manner. In this study, the role of the adventitia in the endothelium-independent effect of L-NOHA was investigated. Despite a decrease in norepinephrine (NE)-induced precontraction, adventitia removal in the rat aorta did not markedly alter the relaxant effect of forskolin, S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine or glyceryl trinitrate. In contrast, both inhibition of NE-induced contraction and relaxation of NE-precontracted rings produced by L-NOHA were diminished in the absence of adventitia. Moreover, exposure to L-NOHA significantly enhanced the cyclic GMP level in the media of the aorta with, but not without adventitia. These findings demonstrate the role of the adventitia in the L-NOHA-induced decrease in tone and increase in cyclic GMP in the endothelium-denuded rat aorta. They suggest that NO or an NO-related compound formed from L-NOHA in the adventitia may produce paracrine effects.