Idiopathic chronic constipation has been correlated to neural abnormalities that consist of a reduced number of myenteric plexus neurons and a decreased concentration of VIP-positive nerve fibers within the circular muscle. Recent studies hypothesized the involvement of nitric oxide in motility disorders of the human gut. To date, no information is available on nitric oxide involvement in idiopathic chronic constipation. The density of VIP- and nitric oxide-producing neurons was evaluated by immunocytochemistry using anti-VIP and anti-nitric oxide synthase antibodies in five patients with idiopathic chronic constipation. A low total neuron density was found at the myenteric plexus. The density of VIP-positive neurons was low while that of nitric oxide synthase-positive neurons was high at both plexuses. Our data confirm that idiopathic slow-transit chronic constipation is due to abnormal neurogenic factors. The presence of numerous nitric oxide synthase-positive neurons, all along the colon and at both plexuses, supports the hypothesis that an excessive production of nitric oxide may cause the persistent inhibition of contractions.