We investigated the roles of the endothelial nitric oxide and cyclo-oxygenase pathways in mediating the vasoactivity of prilocaine in the skin. We injected prilocaine 1% intradermally into forearm skin of 10 healthy, male subjects. Nitric oxide synthesis was inhibited at a second site by co-injecting prilocaine with l-NAME 1%. We then repeated the injections while blocking the cyclo-oxygenase pathway with aspirin (4 x 600 mg). We measured blood flow responses to the injections using laser Doppler imaging. We found that, after the traumatic effects of injection had subsided, l-NAME reduced the vascular response to prilocaine by a third (p = 0.012), indicating an influence specifically on the drug response. Aspirin had no effect on the response (p = 0.588). We conclude that the vasoactive effects of prilocaine in human skin are mediated partly through the release of endothelial nitric oxide and, although other mechanisms might also be involved, the cyclo-oxygenase pathway does not appear to play a role.