Since activation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase has been shown to exert protective effects against the metabolic syndrome, while endothelial nitric oxide synthase knockout mice develop hyperinsulinemia and glucose intolerance, we hypothesised that endothelial nitric oxide might play a protective role against induction of diabetes. The role of endothelial nitric oxide in the development of chemically-induced diabetes has been determined using mice in which the bioavailability of endothelial nitric oxide was either increased, through upregulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase, or absent, through deletion of endothelial nitric oxide synthase gene. Diabetes was induced intraperitoneally with either a single dose of alloxan, streptozotocin, or multiple low doses of streptozotocin and blood glucose monitored twice a week. The role of cyclic guanosine monophosphate was investigated in wildtype mice by treatment with the phosphodiesterase inhibitor, tadalafil, during diabetes induction. Results showed that the incidence of diabetes was markedly decreased in mice overexpressing endothelial nitric oxide synthase, compared to wildtype or endothelial nitric oxide synthase knockout mice, regardless of the method of diabetes induction. Under normal physiological conditions, or during diabetes induction with alloxan or multiple low doses of streptozotocin, blood glucose was significantly lower in mice overexpressing endothelial nitric oxide synthase compared to wildtype or knockout mice. Treatment with tadalafil had no effect on the incidence or severity of diabetes in wildtype mice. We conclude that upregulation of endothelial nitric oxide synthase exerts a protective action against diabetes induction through a direct effect of nitric oxide, independently of cyclic guanosine monophosphate.