Gly-Ala-Hyp-Gly-Leu-Hyp-Gly-Pro (GAXGLXGP, X: Hyp), an octapeptide contained in chicken collagen hydrolysate, inhibits angiotensin I-converting enzyme activity in vitro. Intestinal Caco-2 and bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAECs) were used to investigate whether the transported GAXGLXGP improves vascular function. When GAXGLXGP was added to the apical side of Caco-2 monolayers, the intact form of GAXGLXGP was released to the basolateral side without incorporation into the cells. This transport was energy-independent but was associated with tight junction permeability. GAXGLXGP was then added to BAECs, and endothelial nitric oxide (NO) synthase (eNOS) activation was examined. GAXGLXGP at a concentration of 10 microM stimulated production of NO during a 1 h incubation. This event involved phosphorylation of eNOS at Ser(1179) without a change in the total eNOS protein level. These findings indicate that GAXGLXGP absorbed intact through the intestinal epithelium has direct effects on eNOS activity in vascular endothelial cells, leading to NO synthesis, thereby suggesting the potential for improvement in vascular function.