This experimental study was designed to examine the effect of nitric oxide (NO) on bone metabolism in ovariectomized rats following chronic ethanol treatment. Chronic ethanol intake was produced by gradual substitution (within 3 weeks) of tap water in diet with 5,10,15 and finally 20% of ethanol. Thereafter, the rats were maintained under these conditions for a duration of 4 months. The rats were divided into two groups. The first group received sham operation (SHAM) and the rats in Group II were ovariectomized (OVX). Five weeks after the SHAM and ovariectomy, the rats were treated with ethanol for 4 months. After this period of ethanol administration the NOS inhibitor N-W-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) was given for three weeks along with ethanol to the same rats. Serum interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, NO, calcium (Ca), phosphorous (P), parathyroid hormone (PTH), 25 HydroxyvitaminD(3) [25(OH)D-3], alkaline phosphatase (ALP), bone alkaline phosphatase (b-ALP), alanine amino transferase (ALT), aspartate amino transferase (AST), gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) levels were measured in different stages of the experiment. IL-1beta, IL-6, TNFalpha and NO levels increased after ethanol administration in SHAM and OVX rats. The decrease in serum Ca was significant while the changes in P, PTH and 25 (OH)D3 levels were not. ALP and b-ALP levels were significantly decreased; ALT, AST and GGT levels were significantly increased. In ovariectomized and SHAM rats, administration of L-NAME together with ethanol, produced a significant increase in IL-1beta, IL-6 and TNFalpha levels. In this group, Ca and P levels were significantly increased, PTH and 25 (OH)D-3 levels were significantly decreased. Also, there was a signicant decrease in ALT, AST, ALP, b-ALP, and GGT levels. NO increase due to alcohol intake may function as a protective mechanism preventing bone resorption in cases of estrogen insufficiency. (C) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.