Nitric oxide (NO) is a potential mediator of secondary brain injury in the settings of cerebral ischemia and inflammation. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) alters the levels of stable end products of NO metabolism. We investigated these changes and attempted to identify brain regions that were unique with regard to NO production in the period immediately after TBI. The experiment involved assaying nitrite-nitrate concentrations in the rat cortex, cerebellum, hippocampus, and brainstem after impact-acceleration head injury, Five rats comprised the sham-operated (control) group, five sustained mild head injury (MHI), and five sustained severe head injury (SHI). There was a uniform decline in the tissue concentrations of NO metabolites in all four brain regions in both injured groups. There were no significant differences in the concentrations of NO metabolites among the various sites tested in the MHI group; however, there appeared to be a relationship between degree of decline in NO levels and amount of trauma sustained by a given region in the SHI group. In these rats, NO dropped to the lowest levels in the brain region where the direct trauma was most severe. The results suggest that nitrite-nitrate levels in these four brain regions fall below normal in the first 5min after impact trauma. This decrease may, in part, be related to reduced activity of all nitric oxide synthase isoforms, which would cause a drop in the levels of NO metabolites. We believe that this decline may be linked to, and may even cause, the global decrease in cerebral blood flow that occurs in the initial stages of TBI. [Neurol Res 2003; 25: 31-34].