The present study investigated the effect of endothelin-1 (ET-1) on cholinergic mechanisms of end-organs (i.e. skin blood vessels and sweat glands) for heat dissipation. We evaluated the hypothesis that ET-1 attenuates cholinergic cutaneous vasodilatation and sweating through a nitric oxide synthase (NOS)-dependent mechanism. Cutaneous vascular conductance (CVC) and sweat rate were assessed in three protocols: in Protocol 1 (n = 8), microdialysis sites were perfused with lactated Ringer solution (Control), 40 pm, 4 nm or 400 nm ET-1; in Protocol 2 (n = 11) sites were perfused with lactated Ringer solution (Control), 400 nm ET-1, 10 mm NG-nitro-l-arginine (l-NNA; a NOS inhibitor) or a combination of 400 nm ET-1 and 10 mm l-NNA; in Protocol 3 (n = 8), only two sites (Control and 400 nm ET-1) were utilized to assess the influence of ET-1 on the dilatation capacity of vascular smooth muscle cells (sodium nitroprusside; SNP). Methacholine (MCh) was co-administered in a dose-dependent manner (0.0125, 0.25, 5, 100, 2000 mm, each for 25 min) at all skin sites. ET-1 at 400 nm (P < 0.05) compared to lower doses (40 pm and 4 nm) (all P > 0.05) significantly attenuated increases in CVC in response to 0.25 and 5 mm MCh. A high dose of ET-1 (400 nm) co-infused with l-NNA further attenuated CVC during 0.25, 5 and 100 mm MCh administration relative to the ET-1 site (all P < 0.05). Cutaneous vasodilatation in response to SNP was significantly blunted after administration of 400 nm ET-1 (P < 0.05). We show that ET-1 attenuates cutaneous vasodilatation through a NOS-independent mechanism, possibly through a vascular smooth muscle cell-dependent mechanism, and methacholine-induced sweating is not altered by ET-1.