The aim of this study was to determine whether nonadrenergic, noncholinergic inhibitory neurotransmission in human circular sigmoid colonic and internal anal sphincter muscle involves release of a nitric oxide-like substance. Colonic and sphincter muscle respond to electrical field stimulation by giving nonadrenergic, noncholinergic relaxations. After-contractions always occur in colonic muscle but only sometimes in sphincter muscle. Ng-Nitro-L-arginine abolished relaxations of sphincter muscle and partially reduced those of colonic muscle. After-contractions were undiminished as were relaxations of sphincter muscle to sodium nitroprusside. The effects of Ng-nitro-L-arginine were reversed by L-arginine. The results suggest that nitric oxide is possibly the neurotransmitter mediating nonadrenergic, noncholinergic relaxations of the human internal anal sphincter muscle.