Bradykinin causes vasodilation, stimulates tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA) release and, in rodents, increases muscle glucose uptake. Although bradykinin causes vasodilation partly by activating nitric-oxide synthase (NOS), the role of nitric oxide in regulating bradykinin-stimulated t-PA release is uncertain. This study examined the effect of high-dose NOS inhibition on bradykinin-stimulated t-PA release and glucose uptake in humans. We studied 24 healthy (12 women and 12 men), overweight and obese (body mass index >25 kg/m(2)), normotensive, nondiabetic subjects with normal cholesterol. We measured the effect of intra-arterial N(omega)-monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA, 12 micromol/min) on forearm blood flow (FBF), net t-PA release, and glucose uptake at baseline and in response to intra-arterial bradykinin (50-200 ng/min) in subjects pretreated with the cyclooxygenase inhibitor aspirin. Measurements were repeated after isosorbide dinitrate (ISDN; 5 mg) or sildenafil (50 mg). L-NMMA decreased baseline FBF (P < 0.001), increased baseline forearm vascular resistance (P < 0.001), and increased the t-PA arterial-venous gradient (P = 0.04) without affecting baseline net t-PA release or glucose uptake. During L-NMMA, ISDN tended to decrease baseline net t-PA release (P = 0.06). L-NMMA blunted bradykinin-stimulated vasodilation (P < 0.001 for FBF and FVR). Bradykinin increased net glucose extraction (from -80 +/- 23 to -320 +/- 97 microg/min/100 ml at 200 ng/min bradykinin, P = 0.02), and L-NMMA (-143 +/- 50 microg/min/100 ml at 200 ng/min, P = 0.045) attenuated this effect. In contrast, L-NMMA enhanced bradykinin-stimulated t-PA release (39.9 +/- 7.0 ng/min/100 ml versus 30.0 +/- 4.2 ng/min/100 ml at 200 ng/min, P = 0.04 for L-NMMA). In gender-stratified analyses, L-NMMA significantly increased bradykinin-stimulated t-PA release in women (F = 6.7, P = 0.02) but not in men. Endogenous NO contributes to bradykinin-stimulated vasodilation and glucose uptake but attenuates the fibrinolytic response to exogenous bradykinin.