Endocannabinoids contract, relax or do not affect vessels with different calibre and tone in the pulmonary circulation in four species. The aim of the present study was to determine the mechanisms involved in the anandamide-induced relaxation of human pulmonary arteries (hPAs). Studies were performed in the isolated hPAs pre-constricted with the prostanoid TP receptor agonist, U-46619. To detect fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) expression, Western blots were used. Anandamide concentration dependently relaxed the endothelium-intact hPAs pre-constricted with U-46619. The anandamide-induced relaxation was virtually abolished by removal of the endothelium and strongly attenuated by inhibitors of cyclooxygenases (indomethacin, COX-1/COX-2, and nimesulide, COX-2), nitric oxide synthase (N (G) -nitro-L-arginine methyl ester) given separately or in combination, FAAH (URB597), and the prostanoid IP receptor antagonist, RO1138452. The anandamide-evoked relaxation in the endothelium-intact vessels was attenuated in KCl pre-constricted preparations or by the inhibitor of large-conductance Ca(2+)-activated K(+) channels, iberiotoxin. In experiments performed in the presence of URB597 to exclude effects of anandamide metabolites, the antagonist of the endothelial cannabinoid receptor, O-1918, diminished the anandamide-evoked relaxation whereas the antagonists of cannabinoid CB1, CB2 and vanilloid TRPV1 receptors, AM251, SR144528 and capsazepine, respectively, had no effect. Western blot studies revealed the occurrence of FAAH protein in the hPAs. The present study shows that anandamide breakdown products, cyclooxygenase pathways, nitric oxide, potassium channels and the O-1918-sensitive cannabinoid receptor play a role in the anandamide-induced relaxation of the hPAs with intact endothelium.