Connexin40 (Cx40), connexin37 (Cx37) and connexin43 (Cx43) are subunit proteins of gap junction channels in the vascular wall which are presumably involved in the propagation of vasomotor signals. In this study we have investigated in Cx40-deficient versus wild-type aortic endothelium to which extent loss of Cx40 impairs intercellular communication. We show in Cx40-deficient mice that expression of both Cx37 and Cx43 protein was increased approximately 3- and 2-fold over the level in wild-type endothelium, respectively. Furthermore, Cx37 immunosignals were distributed more homogeneously on contacting plasma membranes in Cx40-deficient versus with wild-type endothelium. Cx43 was not detected in endothelium but only in smooth muscle cells of the vessel wall. Iontophoretic injection of Lucifer Yellow or neurobiotin into aortic endothelium of Cx40-deficient mice showed extensive intercellular transfer of neurobiotin but not of Lucifer Yellow. In contrast, intercellular spreading of Lucifer Yellow was observed in endothelium of wild-type aorta. As shown by electron microscopy, gap junctions in Cx40-deficient endothelium were morphologically different from those of wild-type vessels. These results demonstrate that dye diffusibility of endothelial gap junctions is different in Cx40-deficient and wild-type mice, although Cx40-deficient mice retain the capability of intercellular communication. Apparently, Cx40-deficient endothelial cells upregulate and redistribute Cx37 as a molecular adaptation to the lack of Cx40.