Nitric oxide-dependent vasodilation is impaired early in the pathogenesis of vascular disease. Both the 4ab polymorphisin of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and elevated plasma homocysteine are putatively associated with coronary artery disease (CAD). Few studies have investigated the influence of either on endothelial function in normal subjects. We aimed to examine any effect of three eNOS gene polymorphisms and plasma levels of homocysteine, folate and lipids on vascular endothelial function in normal healthy subjects. Community subjects (n = 60) were selected for their eNOS genotype. Largely NO.-dependent, flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of the brachial artery and the response to glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) were measured. Neither FMD nor response to GTN in 4a allele carriers was significantly different from that of 4b homozygotes, (7.1+/-0.5 S.E.M. vs. 7.1+/-0.6%) and (18.9+/-1.2 vs. 18.9+/-0.9%), respectively. Responses were also independent of the other polymorphisms. FMD was significantly correlated with HDL-cholesterol (P = 0.02). After accounting for serum folate, there was a significant inverse correlation between FMD and plasma homocysteine (P = 0.03). In these normal community subjects, plasma homocysteine and HDL-cholesterol were predictors of FMD despite subjects being recruited without regard to these variables and despite normal plasma levels. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.