The modulating effects of nitric oxide (NO) and reactive oxygen species on cocaine-induced hepatotoxicity were examined by measuring plasma alanine aminotransferase activity and by carrying out histological studies. Liver injury was induced by a single injection of cocaine in adult male ICR mice. Pretreatment with aminoguanidine (an inhibitor of NO synthase), N-methyl-D-glucamine dithiocarbamate complex with iron ion (II) (Fe2+(MGD)2, a trapping reagent of NO) or deferoxamine complex with iron ion (III) (Fe3+-deferoxamine, a scavenger of NO) produced a marked inhibition of the hepatotoxicity induced by cocaine. In addition, pretreatment with allopurinol (an inhibitor of xanthine oxidase) and 1,3-dimethylthiourea (a scavenger of hydroxyl radical) also produced a potent inhibition. These findings suggest that a hydroxyl radical produced by the reaction of NO and superoxide anion (O2-) via peroxynitrite may be involved in the pathogenesis of cocaine hepatotoxicity.