Recently, it has been shown that the exogenous addition of hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) increases endothelial nitric oxide (NO(.)) production. The current study is designed to determine whether endogenous levels of H(2)O(2) are ever sufficient to stimulate NO(.) production in intact endothelial cells. NO(.) production was detected by a NO(.)-specific microelectrode or by an electron spin resonance spectroscopy using Fe(2+)-(DETC)(2) as a NO(.)-specific spin trap. The addition of H(2)O(2) to bovine aortic endothelial cells caused a potent and dose-dependent increase in NO(.) release. Incubation with angiotensin II (10(-7) mol) elevated intracellular H(2)O(2) levels, which were attenuated with PEG-catalase. Angiotensin II increased NO(.) production by 2-fold, and this was prevented by Losartan and by PEG-catalase, suggesting a critical role of AT1 receptor and H(2)O(2) in this response(.) In contrast, NO(.) production evoked by either bradykinin or calcium ionophore was unaffected by PEG-catalase. As in bovine aortic endothelial cells, angiotensin II doubled NO(.) production in aortic endothelial cells from C57BL/6 mice but had no effect on NO(.) production in endothelial cells from p47(phox-/-) mice. In contrast, stimulated NO(.) production to a similar extent in endothelial cells from wild-type and p47(phox-/-) mice. In summary, the present study provides direct evidence that endogenous H(2)O(2), derived from the NAD(P)H oxidase, mediates endothelial NO(.) production in response to angiotensin II. Under disease conditions associated with elevated levels of angiotensin II, this response may represent a compensatory mechanism. Because angiotensin II also stimulates O(2)() production from the NAD(P)H oxidase, the H(2)O(2) stimulation of NO(.) may facilitate peroxynitrite formation in response to this octapeptide.