Complementary DNAs encoding three human isoforms (neuronal, inducible, and endothelial) of nitric oxide synthase were cloned into the baculovirus expression vector pVL1392/1393. Transfection of Sf-9 insect cells with the recombinant baculovirus resulted in the expression of high levels of nitric oxide synthases. The expressed proteins of neuronal and inducible nitric oxide synthase were predominantly soluble, whereas the endothelial enzyme was for the most part, particulate. Recombinant enzymes were purified with 2′,5′-ADP Sepharose affinity chromatography. The effects of reference enzymatic inhibitors (NG-methyl-L-arginine, NG-nitro-L-arginine and N-iminoethyl-L-ornithine) on recombinant expressed proteins were not significantly different from native nitric oxide synthase enzyme preparations. L-aminoguanidine was found to be much less potent in inhibiting recombinant or native human inducible nitric oxide synthase compared to the murine isoform. These findings indicate previously unappreciated interspecies differences in the action of nitric oxide synthase enzymatic inhibitors. The functional expression of human nitric oxide synthase isoforms in a heterologous expression system allowed screening of novel inhibitors. Studies indicated that S-ethylisothiourea and 2-amino-5,6-dihydro-6-methyl-4H-1,3-thiazine were potent novel inhibitors of human nitric oxide synthases. © 1995 Academic Press, Inc.