Reduced endothelium-dependent vasodilator responses with increased synthesis of ET-1 (endothelin-1) are characteristics of endothelial dysfunction in heart failure and are predictive of mortality. Identification of treatments that correct these abnormalities may have particular benefit for patients who become refractory to current regimens. Hawthorn preparations have a long history in the treatment of heart failure. Therefore we tested their inhibitory effects on ET-1 synthesis by cultured endothelial cells. These actions were compared with that of GSE (grape seed extract), as the vasoactive components of both these herbal remedies are mainly oligomeric flavan-3-ols called procyanidins. This showed extracts of hawthorn and grape seed were equipotent as inhibitors of ET-1 synthesis. GSE also produced a potent endothelium-dependent vasodilator response on preparations of isolated aorta. Suppression of ET-1 synthesis at the same time as induction of endothelium-dependent vasodilation is a similar response to that triggered by laminar shear stress. Based on these results and previous findings, we hypothesize that through their pharmacological properties procyanidins stimulate a pseudo laminar shear stress response in endothelial cells, which helps restore endothelial function and underlies the benefit from treatment with hawthorn extract in heart failure.