The effects of cilostazol (OPC-13013, 6-[4-(1-cyclohexyl-1H-tetrazol-5-yl)butoxy]-3,4-dihydro-2(1H)-quin olinone) on cyclic nucleotide metabolism and Ca2+-induced contraction of intact and skinned rabbit arterial smooth muscles were investigated. The concentrations of cilostazol producing 50% inhibition of cyclic adenosine monophosphate phosphodiesterase and Ca2+-dependent cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase were 0.4 microM and above 100 microM, respectively. This compound has no significant effect on adenylate cyclase in concentrations of up to 100 microM. Addition of cilostazol increased significantly the cAMP content without significant effect on cyclic guanosine monophosphate level of rabbit thoracic aorta in the presence of forskolin. Moreover, the ED50 value of cilostazol in relaxation of rabbit mesenteric arterial strips was decreased selectively by addition of 0.01 microM forskolin, which alone at this concentration has no effect on vascular contraction. Cilostazol of up to 30 microM did not suppress the Ca2+-induced contraction of the chemically skinned rabbit mesenteric artery. Therefore, cilostazol may produce the relaxation of intact vascular smooth muscle by its inhibition of cyclic adenosine monophosphate hydrolysis.