The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K) pathway, which activates serine/threonine protein kinase Akt, enhances endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) phosphorylation and nitric oxide (NO) production. We investigated the involvement of the PI3-K/Akt pathway in the relaxation responses to acetylcholine (ACh) and clonidine in a new type 2 diabetic model (streptozotocin plus nicotinamide-induced diabetic mice). Plasma glucose and insulin levels were significantly elevated in our model, and intravenous glucose tolerance tests revealed clear abnormalities in glucose tolerance and insulin responsiveness. Although in our model the ACh-induced relaxation and NOx- (NO2-+NO3-)/cGMP production were unchanged, the clonidine-induced and insulin-induced relaxations and NOx-/cGMP production were all greatly attenuated. In control mice, the clonidine-induced and insulin-induced relaxations were each abolished by LY294002 and by Wortmannin (inhibitors of PI3-K), and also by Akt-inhibitor treatment. The ACh-induced relaxation was unaffected by such treatments in either group of mice. The expression level of total Akt protein was significantly decreased in the diabetic mice aorta, but those for the p85 and p110gamma subunits of PI3-K were not. The clonidine-induced Ser-473 phosphorylation of Akt through PI3-K was significantly decreased in our model; however, that induced by ACh was not. These results suggest that relaxation responses and NO production mediated via the PI3-K/Akt pathway are decreased in this type 2 diabetic model. This may be a major cause of endothelial dysfunction (and the resulting hypertension) in type 2 diabetes.