PVC-211 murine leukemia virus (MuLV) is a neuropathogenic variant of Friend MuLV (F-MuLV) which causes a rapidly progressive spongiform neurodegenerative disease in rodents. The primary target of PVC-211 MuLV infection in the brain is the brain capillary endothelial cell (BCEC), which is resistant to F-MuLV infection. Previous studies have shown that changes in the envelope gene of PVC-211 MuLV confer BCEC tropism to the virus. However, little is known about how infection of BCECs by PVC-211 MuLV induces neurological disease. Previous results suggest that nitric oxide (NO), which has been implicated as a potential neurotoxin, is involved in PVC-211 MuLV-induced neurodegeneration. In this study, we show that expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), which produces NO from l-arginine, is induced in BCECs from PVC-211 MuLV-infected rats. Furthermore, elevated levels of a 32-kDa cellular protein modified by 3-nitrotyrosine, which is a hallmark of NO production, were observed in virus-infected BCECs. BCECs from rats infected with BCEC-tropic but nonneuropathogenic PVF-e5 MuLV, which is a chimeric virus between PVC-211 MuLV and F-MuLV, fail to induce either iNOS expression or elevation of tyrosine nitration of a 32-kDa protein. These results suggest that expression of iNOS and nitration of tyrosine residues of a 32-kDa protein in PVC-211 MuLV-infected BCECs may play an important role in neurological disease induction.