Carbon monoxide (CO), produced by haem oxygenase (HO), has been suggested as a messenger molecule in the central and peripheral nervous systems. In the present study, we have investigated the occurrence of the two isoforms of HO, HO-2 and HO-1 in the canine and feline gastrointestinal tracts, including the small and large intestine and the gastrointestinal sphincters. An abundance of nerve cell bodies that contained immunoreactivity for HO-2 was found in the submucosal and myenteric plexuses. HO-2 immunoreactivity was frequently co-localized with nitric oxide synthase (NOS) or vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) immunoreactivities and was also observed in some nerve fibres, certain non-neuronal cells dispersed among smooth muscle bundles, and in vascular endothelium. The antiserum against HO-1 revealed immunoreactivity in nerve cell bodies in the enteric plexuses, in nerve fibres and in non neuronal cells in the smooth muscle layers. Some of the nerve structures were also NOS- or VIP-immunoreactive. These results demonstrate the presence of HO isoenzymes in nerves and other structures of the canine and feline gastrointestinal tracts and support the view that CO may have a role as a messenger molecule in the enteric nervous system.