Nitric oxide (NO) has been identified as a widespread and multifunctional biological messenger molecule in the central nervous system (CNS), with possible roles in neurotransmission, neurosecretion, synaptic plasticity, and tissue injury in many neurological disorders, including schizophrenia. Neuronal NO is widely produced in the brain from L-arginine catalyzed by neuronal NO synthase (NOS1). We therefore hypothesized that the NOS1 gene may play a role in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. In the present study, we examined the genetic association between a novel single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP: a C-->T transition located 276 base pairs downstream from the translation termination site) of the human NOS1 gene, which is located in chromosome 12q24, and schizophrenia (215 Japanese patients with schizophrenia and 182 healthy controls). The allele frequencies of the polymorphism in exon 29 of the NOS1 gene differed significantly between patients with schizophrenia and controls (chi(2) = 20.10, df = 1, P = 0.000007; relative risk = 1.92; 95% confidence interval = 1.44-2.55). Our results suggest that the NOS1 gene polymorphism may confer increased susceptibility to schizophrenia.