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At the present time, there are no studies in isolated arteries from patients suffering from peripheral occlusive arteriopathy (POA). In the present study, we attempt to characterize the effect of nitroglycerine (GTN) in isolated popliteal preparations obtained after leg amputation in 60–90-year-old men and women suffering from POA.After surgical operation, arterial samples were stored in a refrigerator at 4°C and, after 12–36 h, they were cut into rings and mounted in organ baths containing Krebs'–Henseleit solution at 37°C and gassed constantly with 95% CO2 and 5% O2. Because noradrenaline elicited very poor contractile responses in these preparations, in the present study we evaluated the concentration-dependent contractions induced by KCl (15–90 mmol/L) and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT; 10−7 to 10−4 mol/L) in arteriopathic popliteal rings and, when the corresponding maximum contractile effect had been obtained, we also evaluated the concentration-dependent relaxing effect produced by GTN (10−10 to 10−5 mol/L) in all precontracted preparations. As a reference, similar experiments were performed in popliteal preparations obtained following surgery on non-arteriopathic vascular tissue where it was necessary to resect a certain percentage of healthy vessel.The responses to KCl and 5-HT were greater in healthy vessel than in arteriopathic rings. The relaxing effect of GTN was greater in preparations precontracted with 5-HT than in those preparations precontracted with KCl. In addition, preparations precontracted with KCl relaxed even less when they were obtained from patients with POA.The present data indicate that GTN is a vasodilator with little effect on depolarized arteries. The results also indicate that the effect of this drug is even less in depolarized arteries from patients with POA.