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To evaluate the role of nitric oxide (NO) in the development and unclipping-induced reversal of blood pressure and bilateral renal function in two-kidney, one clip (2K1C) Goldblatt hypertensive rats.Goldblatt hypertensive rats were prepared by clipping the left renal artery 4 weeks before unclipping experiments. NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) was administered after clipping and during unclipping to inhibit nitric oxide (NO) synthesis. Blood pressure and bilateral renal responses were measured.Chronic L-NAME treatment accelerated and aggravated blood pressure elevations and increased plasma nitrite and nitrate levels in 2K1C rats. Surgical removal of the renal artery clip induced profound reductions in blood pressure in rats with and without L-NAME treatment. However, the magnitude of the unclipping-induced depressor response at the first post-unclipping hour was significantly smaller in L-NAME-treated rats compared to those without L-NAME administration (15 ± 1 versus 22 ± 1%, P <0.05). Two hours after unclipping, blood pressure of both groups fell to a comparable, normal level. Acute intravenous infusion of L-NAME in established 2K1C hypertensive rats further increased blood pressure. Subsequent unclipping caused a depressor response similar to that observed in hypertensive rats treated chronically with L-NAME. Despite the marked decreases in blood pressure, unclipping induced striking increases in glomerular filtration rate (GFR), urine flow and sodium and potassium excretion rates in the ipsilateral kidney. However, the magnitudes of increases in GFR and the diuretic and natriuretic responses in rats without L-NAME treatment were significantly greater than in rats with L-NAME administration. In contrast, unclipping reduced these function indices in the contralateral kidney to a similar level in rats with and without L-NAME treatment.NO exerts vasodilator action and thereby lessens renal artery clipping-induced blood pressure elevation. Furthermore, unclipping-induced release of NO partially contributes to the early reduction in blood pressure and changes in bilateral renal function but does not directly mediate the normalization of blood pressure after unclipping in this hypertension model.