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Nitric oxide (NO) may be an important mediator of tumour angiogenesis and metastasis formation. Tumour cell derived NO may be important in the regulation of angiogenesis and vasodilatation of the blood vessels surrounding a tumour. The aims of the present study were, firstly, to determine whether malignant melanoma cells and normal melanocytes had nitric oxide synthase (NOS) activity (measured by the conversion of L-arginine to L-citrulline) and, secondly, to determine whether there was a difference in NOS activity between malignant and normal cell types. This paper assays NOS activity directly in lysates from normal human melanocyte and malignant melanoma cell lines. The enzyme activity was not inducible with bacterial lipopolysaccharide and could be heat denatured. The activity of NOS was demonstrated to be both NADPH-and calcium-dependent and it was inhibitable in a dosedependent manner by the NOS inhibitor Nw-nitro-L-argi-nine methyl ester. We conclude that melanoma and melanocyte cells express a constitutive form of NOS. Finally, nitric oxide synthase activity in melanoma cell lines was found to be significantly greater than in normal melanocytes. These findings suggest that NO synthesis is elevated in malignant melanoma. An elevated NO concentration in melanoma is expected to promote metastases by maintaining a vasodilator tone in the blood vessels in and around the melanoma.