Experiments were performed to determine the involvement of nitric oxide synthase in the generation of nonadrenergic, noncholinergic (NANC) inhibitory junction potentials (IJPs) in the canine proximal colon. Smooth muscle cells were impaled near the myenteric border between the circular and longitudinal layers. Cells exhibited rhythmic myenteric potential oscillations. IJPs were evoked with electrical field stimulation in the presence of drugs to block adrenergic and cholinergic neurotransmission. N omega-nitro-L-arginine, methyl ester (L-NAME), a nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, progressively reduced the amplitude of IJPs. The effect of L-NAME was reversed by L-Arg but not by the stereoisomer D-Arg. IJPs disrupt the regular pattern of myenteric potential oscillations. This effect was also blocked by L-NAME and reversed by L-Arg. These experiments suggest that a product of the nitric oxide synthetic pathway is involved in NANC neurotransmission in the canine proximal colon.