Nitric oxide synthases (NOS Types I-III) generate nitric oxide (NO), which in turn activates soluble guanylyl cyclase (GC-S). The distribution of this NO-mediated (nitrinergic) signal transduction pathway in the body is unclear. A polyclonal monospecific antibody to rat cerebellum NOS-I and a monoclonal antibody to rat lung GC-S were employed to localize the protein components of this pathway in different rat organs and tissues. We confirmed the localization of NOS-I in neurons of the central and peripheral nervous system, where NO may regulate cerebral blood flow and mediate long-term potentiation. GC-S was located in NOS-negative neurons, indicating that NO acts as an intercellular signal molecule or neurotransmitter. However, NOS-I was not confined to neurons but was widely distributed over several non- neural cell types and tissues. These included glia cells, macula densa of kidney, epithelial cells of lung, uterus, and stomach, and islets of Langerhans. Our findings suggest that NOS-I is the most widely distributed isoform of NOS and, in addition to its neural functions, regulates secretion and non-vascular smooth muscle function. With the exception of bone tissue, NADPH-diaphorase (NADPH-d) activity was generally co-localized with NOS-I immunoreactivity in both neural and non-neural cells, and is a suitable histochemical marker for NOS-I but not a selective neuronal marker.