Endothelium-derived relaxing factor/nitric oxide (EDRF/NO) synthesized by bovine aortic endothelial cells and subcellular fractions thereof was assayed by its stimulating effect on soluble guanylyl cyclase of rat fetal lung fibroblasts (RFL-6 cells). The release of EDRF/NO by intact endothelial cells could be stimulated with bradykinin, thrombin, or ADP and was abolished in Ca2+-free medium. When subcellular fractions were analyzed, some EDRF/NO-synthesizing activity was found in the cytosolic fraction, but most of the activity was associated with the particulate fraction. Both enzyme activities required L-arginine and NADPH for EDRF/NO synthesis, both were inhibited by NG-nitro-L-arginine and NG-methyl-L-arginine, and hemoglobin or methylene blue abolished the effect of the EDRF/NO produced by both enzymes. Both enzymes were highly sensitive to Ca2+; the major increase in activity occurred between 100 and 500 nM free Ca2+. Exposure of the particulate enzyme activity to 1 M KCl removed 39% of the protein and reduced total activity by 46%, but the activity was restored when exogenous calmodulin (CaM) was added. Further KCl washes caused little further loss of protein or EDRF/NO synthase activity. The KCl-washed particulate enzyme could be solubilized with the detergent 3-[(3-cholamidopropyl)dimethylammonio]-1-propanesulfonate. The CaM antagonists calmidazolium and trifluoperazine as well as the CaM-binding protein calcineurin inhibited the EDRF/NO synthesis by both the cytosolic and the particulate enzyme. These effects were partially reversed with exogenous CaM. Partial purification of the cytosolic and solubilized particulate enzymes by affinity chromatography on adenosine 2′,5′-bisphosphate-Sepharose resulted in EDRF/NO synthase activities dependent on exogenous CaM. We conclude that endothelial cells contain both cytosolic and particulate enzymes that synthesize EDRF/NO. Both enzymes are regulated by free Ca2+ and, at least in part, by CaM.