Welsh onion, a member of the genus Allium, has been consumed for prevention of cardiovascular disorders. However, its underlying mechanisms are still unclear. We investigated whether Welsh onion extracts (green or white portion, raw or boiled) can alter vascular responses in vitro in the thoracic aortae of Sprague-Dawley rats. The possible roles of endothelium-derived factors in the Welsh onion extract-induced vascular responses were examined by applying various inhibitors, such as Nomega-nitro-L-arginine (10(-4) M), tetraethylammonium (10(-3) M), and SQ29548 (10(-5) M). Our results showed that Welsh onion extracts caused vasodilation on precontracted vessel rings. These effects were most pronounced in vessel rings treated with raw green-leaf extract (RG). Low doses of RG induced vasorelaxation, which was mediated by endothelium-derived nitric oxide. High doses of RG induced endothelium-independent vasorelaxation. On the other hand, the boiled Welsh onion extract also stimulated the release of an endothelium-derived contracting factor, which might be thromboxane A2. We conclude that Welsh onion extract can modulate vascular tone in both endothelium-dependent and endothelium-independent manners.