Brachial artery ultrasound during reactive hyperemia is a noninvasive method of assessing peripheral endothelium-dependent vasodilatation. Aerobic exercise has the potential to improve local endothelial function. We sought to analyze the effects of regular aerobic training on brachial artery endothelial function in endurance athletes. We studied diameter and blood flow of the brachial artery in 32 endurance male athletes and 30 healthy male subjects. In the same subjects flow-mediated dilatation of the brachial artery was recorded by inducing an ischemia through a forearm arterial occluding cuff. Maximal oxygen consumption was significantly higher in the athletes group than in the controls (61.24 +/- 5.43 vs 44.49 +/- 2.68 ml/kg/min, p < 0.001). Flow-mediated dilatation of the brachial artery induced by forearm arterial occlusion in athletes was also higher than that of the control subjects (17.1 +/- 2.3 vs 11.2 +/- 1.7, p = 0.002). Furthermore, there was an association between flow-mediated dilatation and VO2max (r = 0.69, p < 0.001). Baseline measurements of the diameter and the blood flow volume of the brachial artery were similar in both groups. During reactive hyperemia period, the percent of the changes of endothelial diameters and flow were significantly higher in athletes than in controls. Higher flow-mediated dilatation levels in athletes reflect better vascular adaptation to habitual aerobic exercise. - endothelium; athlete; exercise; nitric oxide (C) 2005 Tohoku University Medical Press.