We have recently put forward the hypothesis that the dual inhibition of proinflammatory nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandins (PG) may contribute to the antiinflammatory properties of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitors. This hypothesis was tested in the present study. A rapid inflammatory response characterized by edema, high levels of nitrites (NO2-, a breakdown product of NO), PG, and cellular infiltration into a fluid exudate was induced by the administration of carrageenan into the subcutaneous rat air pouch. The time course of the induction of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) protein in the pouch tissue was found to coincide with the production of NO2-. Dexamethasone inhibited both iNOS protein expression and NO2- synthesis in the fluid exudate (IC50 = 0.16 mg/kg). Oral administration of N-iminoethyl-L-lysine (L-NIL) or NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (NO2Arg) not only blocked nitrite accumulation in the pouch fluid in a dose-dependent fashion but also attenuated the elevated release of PG. Finally, carrageenan administration produced a time-dependent increase in cellular infiltration into the pouch exudate that was inhibited by dexamethasone and NOS inhibitors. At early times, i.e., 6 h, the cellular infiltrate is composed primarily of neutrophils (98%). Pretreatment with colchicine reduced both neutrophil infiltration and leukotriene B4 accumulation in the air pouch by 98% but did not affect either NO2- or PG levels. In conclusion, the major findings of this paper are that (a) selective inhibitors of iNOS are clearly antiinflammatory agents by inhibiting not only NO but also PG and cellular infiltration and (b) that neutrophils are not responsible for high levels of NO and PG produced.