To investigate whether relevant levels of nasal nitric oxide (NO) are produced in the absence of paranasal sinuses, we studied 17 healthy baboons, mammals without any paranasal sinuses. The animals were anesthetized with ketamine hydrochloride and breathed spontaneously. While the baboons breathed through a face mask (mouths closed) connected to a respirator, NO concentrations in exhaled gas were sampled from the expiratory limb and analyzed by chemiluminescence. While the animals were breathing ambient air, nasal gas was sampled via a thin plastic tube and analyzed for NO concentrations by chemiluminescence. Mean NO concentration in the exhaled gas was 1.00 +/- 0.59 parts/billion, and NO release was 4.28 +/- 2.72 nl/min. A NO concentration of 4.79 +/- 2.08 parts/billion was found in the nasal gas (NO release: 7.18 +/- 3.13 nl/min). An age-dependent increase in nasal NO levels was not observed. Exhaled and nasal NO concentrations in baboons were markedly lower than in mammals with paranasal sinuses, suggesting that paranasal sinuses might be an anatomic requirement for production of relevant nasal NO levels.