The production of nitric oxide (NO) in gerbil striatum during ischemia and reperfusion was monitored by measuring total NO metabolites in dialysates, and the effects of 7-nitroindazole (7-NI), a selective inhibitor of neuronal NO synthase, and N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), a non-selective inhibitor of NO synthase, were examined. The effects of these agents on ischemic neuronal damage were histologically evaluated 7 days after transient ischemia for 5 or 10 min. 7-NI and L-NAME decreased the NO production to similar extents in non-ischemic gerbils. 7-NI inhibited the increased NO production after 5 min of ischemia, and partly attenuated the increase in NO production after 10 min of ischemia, but had no effect on the increase after 15 min of ischemia. L-NAME completely abolished the increased NO production after different durations of ischemia. The extent of ischemic neuronal damage by 5-min ischemia was aggravated by either 7-NI or L-NAME, while damage by 10-min ischemia was marked in all groups. These results indicate that neuronal and endothelial NO synthases make different contributions to the post-ischemic NO production and the histological outcomes in gerbil striatum.