In porcine coronary arteries, short-term treatment with resveratrol (RSVL) substantially inhibited MAPK activity (IC50 = 37 microM); and immunoblot analyses revealed consistent reduction in the phosphorylation of ERK-1/-2, JNK-1 and p38, at active sites. Endothelin-1 (ET-1), a primary antecedent in coronary heart diseases, enhanced MAPK activity, phosphorylation and nuclear translocation in a concentration-responsive but RSVL-sensitive manner. RSVL had no effect on basal or forskolin-stimulated cAMP levels, a known downregulator of the MAPK cascade. Likewise, inhibition of MAPK by RSVL was not reversed by the estrogen receptor blockers tamoxifen and ICI-182,780. Conversely, RSVL remarkably attenuated basal and ET-1-evoked protein tyrosine phosphorylation. Because MAPKs promote smooth muscle proliferation and contraction, their current inhibition may contribute to the putative protection by RSVL against coronary heart diseases. These effects apparently do not involve interaction with estrogen receptors.