Nerve-induced release of the nitric oxide (NO) breakdown products nitrite (NO2-) and nitrate (NO3-) and the histochemical localization of NO synthase in the human penile corpus cavernosum and urethra were studied. Relaxations induced by nerve stimulation were inhibited by Nw-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), an effect which was reversed by L-arginine. Relaxations elicited either by nerve stimulation or exogenous NO were accompanied by the appearance of equivalent amounts of NO2- and NO3- over a very similar time course. Nerve-induced release of NO2- and NO3- was inhibited by L-NAME. Histochemical studies showed NADPH diaphorase and NO-positive nerve fibres surrounding the arteries and smooth muscle bundles in the corpus cavernosum and the urethra. The results suggest that NO is a mediator for non-adrenergic non-cholinergic relaxation in the human urogenital tract.