Effects of selective cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors (NS-398) and nitric oxide (NO) -releasing aspirin (NO-ASA) on gastric ulcerogenic and healing responses were examined in comparison with nonselective COX inhibitors such as indomethacin and aspirin (ASA). Hypothermic stress (28-30 degrees C, 4 hr) induced gastric lesions in anesthetized rats with an increase of acid secretion. The lesions induced by hypothermic stress were markedly worsened by subcutaneous administration of both indomethacin and ASA but were not affected by either NS-398 or NO-ASA, although the increased acid secretion during hypothermia was not affected by any of the drugs. On the other hand, the healing of gastric ulcers induced in mice by thermal cauterization (70 degrees C, 15 sec) was significantly delayed by daily subcutaneous administration of indomethacin and ASA as well as NS-398, but not by NO-ASA. COX-2 mRNA was not detected in the intact mucosa but was positively expressed in the ulcerated mucosa, most potently on day 3 after ulceration. Prostaglandin contents in the intact mouse stomach were reduced by indomethacin, ASA, and NO-ASA, while the increased prostaglandin generation in the ulcerated mucosa was inhibited by all drugs including NS-398. After subcutaneous administration of NO-ASA to pylorus-ligated rats and mice, high amounts of NOx were detected in both the gastric contents and serum. In addition, both NS-398 and NO-ASA showed an equipotent antiinflammatory effect against carrageenan-induced paw edema in rats as compared with indomethacin and ASA. These results suggest that both indomethacin and ASA not only increased the mucosal ulcerogenic response to stress but impaired the healing response of gastric ulcers as well. The former action was due to inhibition of COX-1, while the latter effect was accounted for by inhibition of COX-2 and was mimicked by the COX-2-selective inhibitor NS-398. NO-ASA, although it inhibited both COX-1 and COX-2 activity, had no deleterious effects on gastric ulcerogenic and healing responses.