Relaxations induced by electrical field stimulation and acetylcholine were compared with those induced by acidified sodium nitrite, sodium nitroprusside, S-nitrosoglutathione and S-nitroso-N-acetyl-D,L-penicillamine in the mouse corpus cavernosum precontracted with phenylephrine. N-G-nitro-L-arginine inhibited electrical field stimulation- or acetylcholine-induced relaxation, but was ineffective on relaxations caused by the other stimuli. Hydroquinone and pyrogallol had no inhibitory action on the relaxations caused by any stimulus except acidified sodium nitrite. Incubation of the tissue with diethyldithiocarbamic acid significantly inhibited the relaxations induced by all stimuli except papaverine. In the tissues pre-treated with diethyldithiocarbamic acid, superoxide dismutase, hydroquinone and pyrogallol failed to yield restore or further inhibit the relaxations in response to electrical field stimulation or acetylcholine. LY 83583 (6-anilino-5,8-quinolinedione) and hydroxocobalamin clearly inhibited the relaxant responses to electrical field stimulation, acetylcholine, S-nitrosoglutathione and acidified sodium nitrite whereas there was significant enhancement of the relaxation produced by S-nitroso-N-acetyl-D,L-penicillamine. These findings suggest that the relaxant factor released from non-adrenergic non-cholinergic nerves or endothelial cells in mouse cavernosal tissue may be a superoxide anion-resistant nitric oxide-containing molecule and that S-nitrosoglutathione rather than S-nitroso-N-acetyl-D,L-penicillamine could be a suitable candidate for this. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.