Since the discovery of nitric oxide (NO) as a neuronal messenger, its way to modulate learning and memory functions is subject of intense research. NO is an intercellular messenger in the central nervous system and is formed on demand through the conversion of L-arginine to L-citrulline via the enzyme nitric oxide synthase (NOS). Neuronal form of nitric oxide synthase may play an important role in a wide range of physiological and pathological conditions. Therefore the aim of this study was to investigate the effects of chronic 3-bromo 7-nitroindazole (3-Br 7-NI), specific neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) inhibitor, administration on spatial learning and memory performance in rats using the Morris water maze (MWM) paradigm. Male rats received either 3-Br 7-NI (20 mg/kg/day) or saline via intraperitoneal injection for 5 days. Daily administration of the specific neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) inhibitor, 3-Br 7-NI impaired the acquisition of the MWM task. 3-Br 7-NI also impaired the probe trial. The MWM training was associated with a significant increase in the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mRNA expression in the hippocampus. BDNF mRNA expression in the hippocampus did not change after 3-Br 7-NI treatment. L-arginine significantly reversed behavioural parameters, and the effect of 3-Br 7-NI was found to be NO-dependent. There were no differences in locomotor activity and blood pressure in 3-Br 7-NI treated rats. Our results may suggest that nNOS plays a key role in spatial memory formation in rats. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc All rights reserved.