The production of nitric oxide (NO) is increased in active ulcerative colitis and in Crohn's disease. We have studied NO production in collagenous colitis (CC) and lymphocytic colitis (LC), both of which are inflammatory bowel disorders of unknown aetiology. NO levels were measured directly in gas sampled from the colon during colonoscopy. Plasma levels of NO metabolites (nitrate/nitrite) were also measured. Luminal NO levels were more than 100 times higher in patients with CC compared with controls. In addition, plasma levels of nitrate/nitrite were increased in the patients as compared with controls. Measurements of NO directly in the colon or its oxidation products in plasma may be a helpful tool in further understanding the role of NO in the pathophysiology of CC and LC. Moreover, it is tempting to speculate that these measurements could be clinically useful in the diagnosis and therapy monitoring of these two inflammatory bowel diseases.