Soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) regulates several important physiological processes by converting GTP into the second-messenger cGMP. sGC has several structural and functional properties in common with adenylyl cyclases (ACs). Recently, we reported that membranous ACs and sGC are potently inhibited by 2',3'-O-(2,4,6-trinitrophenyl)-substituted purine and pyrimidine nucleoside 5'-triphosphates. Using a highly sensitive high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method, we report that highly purified recombinant sGC of rat possesses nucleotidyl cyclase activity. As opposed to GTP, ITP, XTP and ATP, the pyrimidine nucleotides UTP and CTP were found to be sGC substrates in the presence of Mn(2+). When Mg(2+) is used, sGC generates cGMP, cAMP, cIMP, and cXMP. In conclusion, soluble "guanylyl" cyclase possesses much broader substrate specificity than previously assumed. Our data have important implications for cyclic nucleotide-mediated signal transduction.