Endothelin-1 (ET-1) is a potent mitogen secreted by endothelial cells (ECs) in culture and is a putative factor in vascular lesion development. The purpose of this study was to examine whether smooth muscle cells (SMCs) inhibit EC secretion of ET-1. The effect of SMCs on EC ET-1 and constitutively expressed nitric oxide (NO) synthase activity was examined by using a bilayer co-culture model. SMCs inhibited both EC ET-1 protein and RNA levels, compared with ECs cultured alone. SMCs increased EC NO production when compared with ECs cultured alone. In addition, SMC inhibition of EC ET-1 production could be blocked by the NO synthase inhibitor N(G)-nitro-L-arginine-methyl ester. ECs stimulated SMC proliferation, and the ET-1 AB and B receptor blockers inhibited EC stimulation of SMC proliferation. The ET-1 A blocker had no effect on SMC proliferation. We conclude that SMCs regulate EC ET-1 and ecNOS synthase transcript levels and protein levels. SMC inhibition of ET-1 production by ECs may be mediated through SMC-modulated changes in EC NO activity. Finally, EC stimulation of SMC proliferation in bilayer co-culture is mediated by ET-1 through the ET-1 B receptor.