The effects of immunosuppressant cyclosporin A (CsA) on nitric oxide (NO) production and inducible NO synthase (iNOS) activity in murine L929 fibroblasts were investigated. IFN-gamma-induced NO production in L929 cells was mediated through an iNOS-dependent L-arginine-NO pathway, since it was abrogated by a selective inhibitor of iNOS, aminoguanidine. CsA applied simultaneously with IFN-gamma caused a dose-dependent reduction of NO synthesis in L929 cells. However, CsA did not influence the enzymatic activity of iNOS, since it failed to affect NO production in cells in which iNOS had already been induced with IFN-gamma and any further induction was blocked by the protein-synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide. IFN-gamma-triggered expression of mRNA for interferon regulatory factor-1 was not reduced by CsA-treatment, suggesting that this iNOS transcription factor is not a target in CsA-mediated inhibition of NO synthesis. Finally, FK506 was not able to mimic the inhibitory effect of CsA on NO production in L929 cells, indicating the calcineurin-independent mechanism of CsA action. These results indicate that CsA suppresses NO synthesis in L929 cells independent of calcineurin inhibition, and interfering with intracellular pathways involved in the iNOS induction, rather than inhibiting its enzymatic activity.