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Summary: Hypovolemic hemorrhagic shock was induced in rats by intermittently withdrawing blood from an iliac catheter for 20 min until mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) decreased to 30 mm Hg. Survival rate, survival time, plasma myocardial depressant factor (MDF) activity, MAP, and microscopic gastric alterations were then evaluated. NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl-ester (L-NAME), a selective inhibitor of nitric oxide (NO) production from L-arginine, was injected intravenously (i.v.) after the bleeding was discontinued. Untreated hemorrhagic shocked rats died in 27 ± 3.3 min, had enhanced plasma activity of MDF, and exhibited hemorrhagic infiltrates in gastric fundus mucosa. L-NAME (5 and 10 mg/kg) significantly increased survival rate and time, blunted the increase in plasma MDF activity, and protected against the gastric lesions induced by hemorrhagic hypovolemic shock. All these protective effects were reversed by a bolus of L-arginine (30 mg/kg/i.v.), given 2 min after administration of L-NAME. Our findings suggest that NO production plays an important role in the pathophysiology of hemorrhagic shock.