Mice injected in the footpad with carrageenin developed local inflammation which peaked at 48 hr. This delayed-type footpad swelling was significantly reduced in mice injected intraperitoneally (i.p.) with a specific nitric oxide (NO) synthase inhibitor, L-NGmonomethyl-arginine (L-NMMA). The draining lymph node (DLN) cells from mice injected 48 hr previously with carrageenin produced significantly higher levels of proliferation and interleukin-1 (IL-1), IL-2, IL-6 and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), but less IL-10, compared to cells from saline-injected controls, when stimulated with concanavalin A (Con A) in vitro. Treatment of the carrageenin-injected mice with L-NMMA had little effect on the proliferative response of the DLN cells, but significantly reduced the production of IL-1, IL-2, IL-6 and IFN-gamma, and increased the secretion of IL-10. These data demonstrate that NO plays a significant role in local inflammation and the pattern of cytokines induced in this model.