Abstract The role of nitric oxide (NO) in the development of post-ischemic cerebral infarction has been extensively examined, but fewer studies have investigated its role in other outcomes. In the present study, we first determined the temporal evolution of infarct volume, NO production, neurological deficit and blood–brain barrier disruption in a model of transient focal cerebral ischemia in mice. We then examined the effect of the nonselective NO-synthase inhibitor N ω-nitro- l-arginine-methylester ( l-NAME). l-NAME given at 3 mg/kg 3 h after ischemia reduced by 20% the infarct volume and abolished the increase in brain NO production evaluated by its metabolites (nitrites/nitrates) 48 h after ischemia. l-NAME with this protocol also reduced the neurological deficit evaluated by the grip test and decreased by 65% the extravasation of Evans blue, an index of blood–brain barrier breakdown. These protective activities of l-NAME suggest that NO has multiple deleterious effects in cerebral ischemia.