Nitric oxide (NO) is important in many biological functions. It is generated from L-arginine by the enzyme NO synthase (NOS). The cytokine- inducible NOS (iNOS) is activated by several immunological stimuli, leading to the production of large quantities of NO which can be cytotoxic. To define the biological role of iNOS further, we generated iNOS mutant mice. These are viable, fertile and without evident histopathological abnormalities. However, in contrast to wild-type and heterozygous mice, which are highly resistant to the protozoa parasite Leishmania major infection, mutant mice are uniformly susceptible. The infected mutant mice developed a significantly stronger Th1 type of immune response than the wild-type or heterozygous mice. The mutant mice showed reduced nonspecific inflammatory response to carrageenin, and were resistant to lipopolysaccharide-induced mortality.