Arginase exists in two isoforms. Liver-type arginase (arginase I) is expressed almost exclusively in the liver and catalyzes the last step of urea synthesis, whereas the nonhepatic type (arginase II) is expressed in extrahepatic tissues. Arginase II has been proposed to play a role in down-regulation of nitric oxide synthesis. A cDNA for human arginase II was isolated. A polypeptide of 354 amino acid residues including the putative NH2-terminal presequence for mitochondrial import was predicted. It was 59% identical with arginase I. The arginase II precursor synthesized in vitro was imported into isolated mitochondria and proteolytically processed. mRNA for human arginase II was present in the kidney and other tissues, but was not detected in the liver. Arginase II mRNA was coinduced with nitric oxide synthase mRNA in murine macrophage-like RAW 264.7 cells by lipopolysaccharide. This induction was enhanced by dexamethasone and dibutyryl cAMP, and was prevented by interferon-gamma. Possible roles of arginase II in NO synthesis are discussed.