The bioavailability of nitric oxide (NO) within the vascular wall is limited by superoxide anions (O2.-). The relevance of extracellular superoxide dismutase (ecSOD) for the detoxification of vascular O2.- is unknown. We determined the involvement of ecSOD in the control of blood pressure and endothelium-dependent responses in angiotensin II-induced hypertension and renovascular hypertension induced by the two-kidney, one-clip model in wild-type mice and mice lacking the ecSOD gene. Blood pressure was identical in sham-operated ecSOD+/+ and ecSOD-/- mice. After 6 days of angiotensin II-treatment and 2 and 4 weeks after renal artery clipping, blood pressure was significantly higher in ecSOD-/- than ecSOD+/+ mice. Recombinant ecSOD selectively decreased blood pressure in hypertensive ecSOD-/- mice, whereas ecSOD had no effect in normotensive and hypertensive ecSOD+/+ mice. Compared with sham-operated ecSOD+/+ mice, sham-operated ecSOD-/- mice exhibited attenuated acetylcholine-induced relaxations. These responses were further depressed in vessels from clipped animals. Vascular O2.-, as measured by lucigenin chemiluminescence, was higher in ecSOD-/- compared with ecSOD+/+ mice and was increased by clipping. The antioxidant tiron normalized relaxations in vessels from sham-operated and clipped ecSOD-/-, as well as from clipped ecSOD+/+ mice. In contrast, in vivo application of ecSOD selectively enhanced endothelium-dependent relaxation in vessels from ecSOD-/- mice. These data reveal that endogenous ecSOD is a major antagonistic principle to vascular O2.-, controlling blood pressure and vascular function in angiotensin II-dependent models of hypertension. ecSOD is expressed in such an abundance that even in situations of high oxidative stress no relative lack of enzyme activity occurs.