Nitric oxide (NO) is a short-lived, readily diffusible intracellular messenger molecule associated with multiple organ-specific regulatory functions. Endogenous stimulation or exogenous administration of NO have been shown to inhibit production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and expression of oxidant-mediated molecular or tissue injury. Potassium bromate (KBrO3) is one such potent renal oxidant that acts through generation of ROS-mediated lipid peroxidation, and causes increased ornithine decarboxylase activity, enhanced rate of DNA synthesis and depletion of the antioxidant armoury of the tissue. In this study, we elucidate the effect of exogenous NO administration, using the NO donor glyceryl trinitrate (GTN), on KBrO3-induced nephrotoxicity, oxidative stress and cell proliferation. KBrO3 administration at a dose of 125 mg/kg body weight results in significant (P < 0.001) depletion in renal glutathione (GSH) content, and glutathione reductase (GR) activity with a concomitant increase in microsomal lipid peroxidation, and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine levels. Parallel to these changes, we found significant enhancement in ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity and rate of renal DNA synthesis. Subsequent administration of GTN resulted in dose-dependent amelioration of GSH content and GR activity with concomitant inhibition of lipid peroxidation, and BUN and creatinine levels. In addition, GTN administration to KBrO3-intoxicated rats resulted in significant dose-dependent down regulation of enhanced ODC activity and rate of [3H]-thymidine incorporation in renal DNA, providing support for the protective role of NO in attenuation of KBrO3-induced oxidative stress and cell proliferation. Enhancement of oxidative tissue injury and cell proliferation on administration of the NO inhibitor, L-NAME, further demonstrates the protective efficacy of endogenous NO. These data suggest that NO inhibits KBrO3-induced tissue injury, oxidative stress and proliferative response in the rat kidney.