We have previously demonstrated that administration of nitric oxide (NO) synthase inhibitor, N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), aggravated murine coxsackievirus B3 myocarditis. In the present study, we evaluated the effects of L-arginine, a precursor of NO, upon acute and chronic myocarditis. Dietary L-arginine and L-arginine plus L-NAME (L-arginine+L-NAME group) were administered to coxsackievirus B3 (CB3)-infected C(3)H/He mice for 2 weeks (experiment I), and to CB3-infected mice from the second week until the fourth week after virus inoculation (experiment II). Infected control was prepared in each experiment. In experiment I, survival was higher in the L-arginine group compared with the other two groups, and cardiac damage was less. In addition, plasma concentrations of L-arginine and NO were elevated in the L-arginine group. In experiment II, cardiomyopathic lesion in the L-arginine group was less prominent associated with lower plasma catecholamine and lower myocardial collagen concentrations compared with the other two groups. Thus, L-arginine treatment may be effective not only in preventing the development of acute CB3 myocarditis but in ameliorating cardiac dysfunction in chronic myocarditis.