The mucosal protective effect of nitric oxide (NO) was examined by using NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) as nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitor and nitroprusside (NP) as NO donating agent, in ethanol-induced rat gastric lesion model. The results are summarized as follows: (1) As gastric tissue samples were examined by light microscopy, intragastric exposure of ethanol was demonstrated to induce gastric injury; which was more prominent in female rats. The depletion of NO by L-NAME treatment exacerbated the ethanol-induced gastric lesion but NP together with ethanol promoted repair of the mucosal injury, especially in female rats. (2) Gastric H+, K+-ATPase enzyme activity, which was responsible for acid secretion, seemed not to be effected by ethanol treatment. Together with ethanol, L-NAME treatment activated, whereas NP treatment inhibited, the enzyme activity in female rats. (3) Ethanol treatment inhibited gastric alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) activity, which was responsible for the first-pass metabolism of ethanol. Together with ethanol, L-NAME did not effect the enzyme activity whereas NP treatment disappeared the inhibitory effect of ethanol in both gender. Hydroxyl radical (OH .) scavenger activity was found to increase in ethanol and ethanol + NP groups in both sexes, but superoxide radical (O-2(-.)) scavenger activity did not change. The results indicate that NO may ameliorate the damaging effect of ethanol possibly by regulating acid secretion, ethanol metabolism, and antioxidant content in rat gastric mucosa.