In reptiles the influence of local vascular factors on blood flow regulation is vaguely understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of nitric oxide (NO) on vascular function in anesthetized Trachemys scripta. The experimental protocol consisted of serial injections of sodium nitroprusside (SNP; 25 microg. kg(-1)), L-arginine (185 mg. kg(-1)) and L-NAME (50 mg. kg(-1)). SNP induced a systemic vasodilation (0.05 to 0.02 kPa. min. kg. mL(-1), P = 0.015), with no change in pulmonary vascular resistance (0.07 versus 0.08 kPa. min. kg. mL(-1), P > 0.05). L-Arg had no effect on resistances but increased cardiac output by 17%. L-NAME increased systemic resistance (33% increase; P = 0.01) while pulmonary resistance was unchanged. These effects are consistent with in vivo and in vitro studies on the systemic vasculature of different reptilian species, suggesting that NO has an important role in maintaining systemic vascular tone. The pulmonary vasculature did not respond to NO due to either a lack of an endogenous NO tone or a relaxed state of the pulmonary vasculature. The importance of NO-based mechanisms versus other neuro-humoral modulators in the reptilian circulation remains uncertain. However, as established in prior studies, cholinergic control of the proximal pulmonary artery is the main regulator of pulmonary resistance while systemic resistance depends on a more complex suite of neural, humoral and local effectors that include NO.