7-Nitro indazole (7-NI), which is selective for the neuronal isoform of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), was tested in a passive avoidance task in the chick. Injection of 50 mg/kg i.p. pretraining had amnesic effects for the task when tested 30 min, 2 or 24 hr after training. Injections post-training had no effect. Because 7-NI does not inhibit the endothelial isoform of NOS, it does not affect blood vessel relaxation, as nonspecific inhibitors do. This effect on blood vessels could explain the amnestic effects produced by nonspecific NOS inhibitors. The results support the theory that NO is a neuronal transmitter that is important in processes of synaptic plasticity and learning.