We hypothesized that vascular nitric oxide synthase (NOS) function and expression is differentially regulated in adult Dahl salt-sensitive rats maintained on Teklad or American Institutes of Nutrition (AIN)-76A standard chow diets from 3 to 16 wk old. At 16 wk old, acetylcholine (ACh)-mediated vasorelaxation and phenylephrine (PE)-mediated vasoconstriction in the presence and absence of NOS inhibitor, N ω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), was assessed in small-resistance mesenteric arteries and aortas. Rats maintained on either diet throughout the study had similar responses to ACh and PE in the presence or absence of L-NAME in both vascular preparations. We reasoned that changing from one diet to another as adults may induce vascular NOS dysfunction. In the absence of L-NAME, small arteries from Tekladfed rats switched to AIN-76 diet and vice versa had similar responses to ACh and PE. Small-arterial NOS function was maintained in rats switched to AIN-76A from Teklad diet, whereas NOS function in response to ACh and PE was lost in the small arteries from rats changed to Teklad from AIN-76A diet. This loss of NOS function was echoed by reduced expression of NOS3, as well as phosphorylated NOS3. The change in NOS phenotype in the small arteries was observed without changes in blood pressure. Aortic responses to ACh or PE in the presence or absence of L-NAME were similar in all diet groups. These data indicate that changing standard chow diets leads to small arterial NOS dysfunction and reduced NOS signaling, predisposing Dahl salt-sensitive rats to vascular disease. © 2012 by the American Physiological Society.