Weight reduction is associated with a decrease in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. We hypothesized that, given the central role of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species in vascular biology, changes in nitric oxide (NO) metabolism contribute to benefits of weight loss. In a controlled weight loss trial involving overweight (body mass index (BMI) = 27-30 kg/m(2)), otherwise healthy premenopausal Caucasian and African-American women, serum levels of nitrite and nitrate, as an index of NO production, and protein 3-nitrotyrosine and myeloperoxidase (MPO), as markers of inflammation, were determined. Testing was performed before and after reduction to normal body weight (BMI < 25) under standardized conditions, with controlled diet, and following 1 month of weight maintenance. After weight loss there was an increase in nitrite and nitrate, and levels were higher among African-American women relative to Caucasian counterparts. Whereas weight loss was associated with a decrease in 3-nitrotyrosine in Caucasian women, no change was observed among African-Americans. Furthermore, MPO levels increased in response to weight loss for African-Americans, but did not change in Caucasian women. These data indicate that vascular production of reactive nitrogen species can be modulated by race and weight loss and highlight important racial differences in these responses and are discussed in the context of risk for developing vascular disease.