Using a reverberatory epilepiform discharge of hippocampal-parahippocampal circuits termed ''maximal dentate activation'', this study investigated whether the local release of nitric oxide within these circuits functions as an antiepileptic agent. Two nitric oxide synthase inhibitors (L-nitro-arginine methyl ester and 7-nitro-indazole) and a guanylate cyclase inhibitor (methylene blue) were tested, and none had a significant effect on the time to onset or duration of maximal dentate activation. A membrane-permeable analogue of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), 8-bromo-cGMP, caused an increase in the time to onset and a decrease in the duration of maximal dentate activation. The number of neurons expressing NADPH diaphorase activity (a marker for nitric oxide synthase) was also examined after repeated elicitation of maximal dentate activation. After 18 seizures there was a significant, but transient, decrease in the number of hilar/subgranular neurons that were NADPH diaphorase-positive, The decrease was only seen at 1 h after the last seizure. There was no induction of NADPH diaphorase activity. These results are not consistent with the hypothesis that, in hippocampal-parahippocampal circuits in vivo, nitric oxide is released in response to neuronal activity and then acts to terminate the neuronal activity.