The deleterious effects of excessive release of nitric oxide (NO) have been implicated in the tissue damage and inflammation. In this study, the effect of various flavonoids and other oxidant scavenging chemical agents have been studied for their ability to inhibit 12-O-tetradecanoyl phorbol 13-acetate (TPA)-induced NO generation in rat hepatocyte. Hepatocytes activated with TPA (25-200 nM) released NO in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. Green tea polyphenols (GTP) and tannic acid (TA) were most effective in inhibiting TPA-induced NO generation (90%). These agents were also effective in inhibiting NO formation when added 2 h following TPA addition. The other oxidant scavengers, such as L-histidine, sodium azide, vitamin E and sodium benzoate, were not found to be effective even up to 1.0 mM concentration. These results suggest that TA and GTP are potent inhibitors of NOS activity and the inhibition of TPA-induced NO generation by these polyphenols is independent of their antioxidant activity. It is tempting to speculate that these agents could be utilized in the pharmacological manipulations of NO-dependent pathophysiological responses. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.