Nitrogen monoxide (NO) is a potent endogenous vasodilator and is involved in cytotoxicity, neurotransmission, and immunological defense mechanisms. Phototherapy has long been known to change the distribution of blood flow throughout the body in newborn infants. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of phototherapy on NO production in otherwise healthy newborns. Urinary NO levels were measured before and 6 h after phototherapy by a chemiluminescence method using Sievers NOA. Ten newborns (gestational age, 36.4 +/- 3.9 weeks; birth weight, 2863 +/- 677.44 g; postnatal age, 5.1 +/- 2.72 days) were started on phototherapy according to AAP guidelines and urine for NO measurement was collected prior to therapy and 6 h after the commencement of treatment. Urinary NO levels measured during phototherapy were significantly higher (108.8 +/- 50.69 mumol/mmol creatinine) than the levels measured before phototherapy (73.13 +/- 34.15 mumol/mmol creatinine; P < 0.05). These results suggest that newborns receiving phototherapy might have increased NO production, which might result in hemodynamic changes. However, further studies on the effects of phototherapy on NO and photorelaxation are needed before reaching firm conclusions. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science (USA).