Morbidity caused by early allograft dysfunction, manifested by a progressive increase in pulmonary vascular resistance and a decrease in oxygenation, remains a serious problem in lung transplantation. Inhalation of nitric oxide, an essential homeostatic molecule, has been shown to have beneficial effects on a variety of acute lung injuries. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of inhaled nitric oxide on posttransplant function of canine left lung allografts. Fourteen dogs underwent left lung allotransplantation. Donors received systemic heparin and prostaglandin E1 followed by pulmonary artery flush with modified Euro-Collins solution. Donor left lungs were stored for 18 hours at 1°C and subsequently implanted. Immediately after reperfusion, the contralateral right main pulmonary artery and bronchus were ligated. The chest was closed and recipients turned to the supine position for the 6-hour assessment period. Hemodynamic and arterial and venous blood gas analyses were made at 15-minute intervals at an inspired oxygen fraction of 1.0 and 5 cm of water positive end-expiratory pressure. Animals were killed at the end of the assessment. Allograft myeloperoxidase activity assays and wet/dry weight ratios were done. In group I (n = 5), nitric oxide gas was administered continuously at concentrations of 60 to 70 ppm before reperfusion and throughout the 6-hour assessment period. In group II (n = 5), nitric oxide administration was initiated at the same concentration after reperfusion injury had developed. Group III animals (n = 4) received no nitric oxide. Significant improvement in gas exchange was apparent in group I. At the end of the 6-hour assessment period, mean arterial oxygen tension was 253.8 ± 44.7 mm Hg and 114.9 ± 25.5 mm Hg in groups I and III, respectively (p < 0.05). Group II animals had no improvement in oxygenation with nitric oxide. Systemic hemodynamics were unaffected by nitric oxide. However, an immediate decrease in pulmonary vascular resistance was noted. Group I myeloperoxidase activity was significantly lower than that in control group III (0.24 ± 0.06 versus 0.36 ± 0.04 units, respectively; p < 0.05).