1. We compared effects of NG-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA), an NO synthase inhibitor, on vasodilator responses to intra-arterial infusion of bradykinin and substance P in the human forearm. 2. Bradykinin (100 pmol min-1) increased forearm blood flow when infused into the brachial artery of eight healthy male volunteers, from 2.8 +/- 0.2 (mean +/- s.e. mean) to 9.3 +/- 1.0 ml min-1 per 100 ml forearm volume. 3. Co-infusion of L-NMMA (2 mumol min-1 and 4 mumol min-1) with bradykinin (100 pmol min-1) for 6 min produced respectively a 9 +/- 14% and 42 +/- 14% inhibition (compared with L-NMMA vehicle) in the response to bradykinin. 4. Substance P (1 pmol min-1) when infused into the brachial artery of a further eight male subjects increased forearm blood flow from 3.4 +/- 0.2 to 6.3 +/- 0.7 ml min-1 100 ml-1. 5. Co-infusion of L-NMMA (2 mumol min-1 and 4 mumol min-1) with substance P (1 pmol min-1) for 6 min produced respectively a 27 +/- 8% and 70 +/- 13% inhibition (compared with L-NMMA vehicle) in the response to substance P. 6. These results demonstrate that vasodilator responses to both bradykinin and substance P are mediated in part via the L-arginine/NO pathway. Bradykinin and substance P may be useful agonists with which to study endothelial function in this vascular bed.