Uptake of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) by monocyte/macrophages to form “foam” cells has been implicated in atherogenesis. Activated monocyte/macrophages synthesize nitric oxide (NO) from L-arginine. NO is cytotoxic, antiproliferative, and a vasodilator that inhibits platelet and monocyte adhesion. NO synthase mRNA, protein, and enzyme activity were induced in J774.A1 macrophages activated with lipopolysaccharide and gamma interferon. When macrophages were incubated with oxidized LDL for 24 hours and activated, there was a dose- and time-dependent inhibition of NO synthesis, assessed as nitrite accumulation in the media. When activated cells were incubated with nontoxic doses of lipoprotein (25 μg/mL), neither native LDL nor acetyl LDL inhibited NO production, whereas oxidized LDL produced 50% inhibition. Levels of enzyme protein were unchanged by Western blot. Inhibition was a function of the degree of oxidation of LDL but was independent of cholesteryl esterifi-cation by the cells. Incubations of oxidized LDL with cells that had been pretreated with dextran sulfate or cytochalasin B yielded no evidence that inhibition was dependent on the scavenger receptor or directed endocytosis. Kinetic studies of inducible NO synthase from J774.A1 cells that were incubated with increasing doses of oxidized LDL indicated a pattern of noncompetitive inhibition. Inhibition of the enzyme was produced by lipids extracted from oxidized LDL but not by lipids extracted from native LDL. Because phosphatidylcholine (PC) is converted to lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) during the oxidation of LDL, the effects of LPC were investigated. PC vesicles containing LPC did not inhibit enzyme activity but produced modest reductions in nitrite accumulation from cells. In contrast, PC vesicles had no significant effect. The data indicate that oxidized LDL lipid inhibits the activity of inducible NO synthase in activated macrophages. NO production by this enzyme and its inhibition by oxidized LDL lipid may influence cell-to-cell interactions and vasomotor tone in atherosclerotic blood vessels.