The modulation played by reactive oxygen species on the angiotensin II-induced contraction in type I-diabetic rat carotid was investigated. Concentration–response curves for angiotensin II were obtained in endothelium-intact or endothelium-denuded carotid from control or streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats, pre-treated with tiron (superoxide scavenger), PEG-catalase (hydrogen peroxide scavenger), dimethylthiourea (hydroxyl scavenger), apocynin [NAD(P)H oxidase inhibitor], SC560 (cyclooxygenase-1 inhibitor), SC236 (cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor) or Y-27632 (Rho-kinase inhibitor). Reactive oxygen species were measured by flow cytometry in dihydroethidium (DHE)-loaded endothelial cells. Cyclooxygenase and AT1-receptor expression was assessed by immunohistochemistry. Diabetes increased the angiotensin II-induced contraction but reduced the agonist potency in rat carotid. Endothelium removal, tiron or apocynin restored the angiotensin II-induced contraction in diabetic rat carotid to control levels. PEG-catalase, DMTU or SC560 reduced the angiotensin II-induced contraction in diabetic rat carotid at the same extent. SC236 restored the angiotensin II potency in diabetic rat carotid. Y-27632 reduced the angiotensin II-induced contraction in endothelium-intact or -denuded diabetic rat carotid. Diabetes increased the DHE-fluorescence of carotid endothelial cells. Apocynin reduced the DHE-fluorescence of endothelial cells from diabetic rat carotid to control levels. Diabetes increased the muscular cyclooxygenase-2 expression but reduced the muscular AT1-receptor expression in rat carotid. In summary, hydroxyl radical, hydrogen peroxide and superoxide anion-derived from endothelial NAD(P)H oxidase mediate the hyperreactivity to angiotensin II in type I-diabetic rat carotid, involving the participation of cyclooxygenase-1 and Rho-kinase. Moreover, increased muscular cyclooxygenase-2 expression in type I-diabetic rat carotid seems to be related to the local reduced AT1-receptor expression and the reduced angiotensin II potency.