The pathogenesis of salt-sensitive hypertension remains poorly defined, but a role for nitric oxide (NO) has been suggested. The Dahl/Rapp salt-sensitive rat possesses a defect in NO synthesis that is overcome by supplementation with L-arginine, which increases NO and cGMP production and prevents salt-sensitive hypertension. An S714P mutation of inducible NO synthase (NOS2) was subsequently identified. The current report examined the functional significance of an S714P mutation in NOS2. COS-7 cells were transiently transfected with cDNA of wild-type NOS2 and S714P and S714A mutants of NOS2, and enzyme function was determined. Whereas steady-state mRNA levels did not differ, immunoblot analysis demonstrated decreased levels of NOS2 protein. Metabolic labeling experiments confirmed a reduced half-life of the S714P mutation. Nitrite production, which was dependent on the concentration of L-arginine in the medium, was diminished in cells transfected with the S714P mutant, compared with the wild type and the S714A mutant. These data provide a biochemical explanation of the physiological abnormalities of NOS2 in the Dahl/Rapp salt-sensitive rat and suggest that a posttranslational mechanism involving the proteasome may be responsible for the diminished NO production observed in response to increased dietary salt intake in these animals.