AIM: Argininosuccinate synthetase (ASS) is essential for recycling L-citrulline, the by-product of NO synthase (NOS), to the NOS substrate L-arginine. Here, we assessed whether disturbed arginine resynthesis modulates endothelium-dependent vasodilatation in normal and diabetic male mice. METHODS AND RESULTS: Endothelium-selective Ass-deficient mice (Assfl/fl/Tie2Cretg/- = Ass-KOTie2) were generated by crossing Assfl/fl mice ( = control) with Tie2Cre mice. Gene ablation in endothelial cells was confirmed by immunohistochemistry. Blood pressure (MAP) was recorded in 34-week-old male mice. Vasomotor responses were studied in isolated saphenous arteries of 12- and 34-week-old Ass-KOTie2 and control animals. At the age of 10 weeks, diabetes was induced in control and Ass-KOTie2 mice by streptozotocin injections. Vasomotor responses of diabetic animals were studied 10 weeks later. MAP was similar in control and Ass-KOTie2 mice. Depletion of circulating L-arginine by arginase 1 infusion or inhibition of NOS activity with L-NAME resulted in an increased MAP (10 and 30 mmHg, respectively) in control and Ass-KOTie2 mice. Optimal arterial diameter, contractile responses to phenylephrine, and relaxing responses to acetylcholine and sodium nitroprusside were similar in healthy control and Ass-KOTie2 mice. However, in diabetic Ass-KOTie2 mice, relaxation responses to acetylcholine and endothelium-derived NO (EDNO) were significantly reduced when compared to diabetic control mice. CONCLUSIONS: Absence of endothelial citrulline recycling to arginine did not affect blood pressure and systemic arterial vasomotor responses in healthy mice. EDNO-mediated vasodilatation was significantly more impaired in diabetic Ass-KOTie2 than in control mice demonstrating that endothelial arginine recycling becomes a limiting endothelial function in diabetes.