Inhaled nitric oxide is now widely used in the treatment of hypoxemia and pulmonary hypertension in critically ill patients. Interleukin-8 (IL-8) and neutrophil elastase are important markers of the onset and severity of acute lung injury. We studied the effects of nitric oxide and peroxynitrite on IL-8) and elastase accumulation in lipopolysaccharide-activated whole blood. The nitric oxide donor (GEA-3162) did not affect IL-8 accumulation (P = 0.195) but did cause an increase in elastase accumulation (P = 0.007). The peroxynitrite donor (SIN-1) caused an increase in both IL-8 accumulation (P = 0.0004) and elastase accumulation (P = 0.007). The lack of effect of nitric oxide could be explained by the scavenging of nitric oxide by hemoglobin. These results suggest that modulation of the inflammatory response may occur during inhaled nitric oxide therapy in the critically ill. Implications: Inhaled nitric oxide, used in lung injury, reacts within the lung, forming peroxynitrite. We investigated the effect of nitric oxide and peroxynitrite on interleukin-8 and elastase release by white cells during inflammation. Nitric oxide and peroxynitrite had marked effects on elastase and interleukin-8, which suggests modulation of the inflammatory response.