Nitric oxide (NO) is suggested to play a role in liver injury elicited by acetaminophen (APAP). Hepatic microcirculatory dysfunction also is reported to contribute to the development of the injury. As a result, the role of NO in hepatic microcirculatory alterations in response to APAP was examined in mice by in vivo microscopy. A selective inducible NO synthase (iNOS) inhibitor,l-N6-(1-iminoethyl)-lysine (L-NIL), or a nonselective NOS inhibitor, NG-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), was intraperitoneally administered to animals 10 min before APAP gavage. L-NIL suppressed raised alanine aminotransferase (ALT) values 6 h after APAP, whereas L-NAME increased those 1.7-fold. Increased ALT levels were associated with hepatic expression of iNOS. L-NIL, but not L-NAME, reduced the expression. APAP caused a reduction (20%) in the numbers of perfused sinusoids. L-NIL restored the sinusoidal perfusion, but L-NAME was ineffective. APAP increased the area occupied by infiltrated erythrocytes into the extrasinusoidal space. L-NIL tended to minimize this infiltration, whereas L-NAME further enhanced it. APAP caused an increase (1.5-fold) in Kupffer cell phagocytic activity. This activity in response to APAP was blunted by L-NIL, whereas L-NAME further elevated it. L-NIL suppressed APAP-induced decreases in hepatic glutathione levels. These results suggest that NO derived from iNOS contributes to APAP-induced parenchymal cell injury and hepatic microcirculatory disturbances. L-NIL exerts preventive effects on the liver injury partly by inhibiting APAP bioactivation. In contrast, NO derived from constitutive isoforms of NOS exerts a protective role in liver microcirculation against APAP intoxication and thereby minimizes liver injury.