Chronic nitroglycerin treatment results in development of nitrate tolerance associated with endothelial dysfunction (ED). We sought to clarify how mitochondria- and NADPH oxidase (Nox)-derived reactive oxygen species (ROS) contribute to nitrate tolerance and nitroglycerin-induced ED. Nitrate tolerance was induced by nitroglycerin infusion in male Wistar rats (100 microg/h/4 day) and in C57/Bl6, p47(phox/) and gp91(phox/) mice (50 microg/h/4 day). Protein and mRNA expression of Nox subunits were unaltered by chronic nitroglycerin treatment. Oxidative stress was determined in vascular rings and mitochondrial fractions of nitroglycerin-treated animals by L-012 enhanced chemiluminescence, revealing a dominant role of mitochondria for nitrate tolerance development. Isometric tension studies revealed that genetic deletion or inhibition (apocynin, 0.35 mg/h/4 day) of Nox improved ED, whereas nitrate tolerance was unaltered. Vice versa, nitrate tolerance was attenuated by co-treatment with the respiratory chain complex I inhibitor rotenone (100 microg/h/4 day) or the mitochondrial permeability transition pore blocker cyclosporine A (50 microg/h/4 day). Both compounds improved ED, suggesting a link between mitochondrial and Nox-derived ROS. Mitochondrial respiratory chain-derived ROS are critical for the development of nitrate tolerance, whereas Nox-derived ROS mediate nitrate tolerance-associated ED. This suggests a crosstalk between mitochondrial and Nox-derived ROS with distinct mechanistic effects and sites for pharmacological intervention.