Attention has focused on particular neurons as the source of nitric oxide (NO) within the parenchyma of the CNS. In contrast, glial cells have been viewed mainly as potential reservoirs of l-arginine, the substrate for nitric oxide synthase (NOS), and as likely targets for neuronally derived NO because of their proximity and their expression of soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC). However, it is becoming evident that astrocytes display both constitutive and inducible NOS activity under various conditions, and that activated microglia express an inducible NOS. The NO-producing capacity of oligodendrocytes is not yet known. Glial-derived NO has significant implications for CNS pathophysiology, given the anatomical location and abundance of these cells, and the wide variety of potential interactions that NO can have with cellular biochemistry. Our intention here is to evaluate the evidence for NO production from non-neuronal CNS sources and thus prompt discussion about potential 'nitrinergic' roles for glial cells. © 1993.