We have recently made the novel observation that a pro-oxidant challenge with hydroquinone in combination with buthionine sulfoximine (each at 50 mg/kg i.p. daily for 7 days) provokes the onset of type II diabetes mellitus in a model of insulin resistance, the obese Zucker rat. Since endothelial dysfunction in oxidant stress may aggravate in vivo insulin resistance, we have now investigated endothelium-dependent and nitric oxide (NO)-mediated vascular responses in the obese Zucker rat in vivo following this pro-oxidant insult. Pro-oxidant-treated animals exhibited defective vasodepression to the endothelium-dependent agent acetylcholine and to a lesser extent, the NO donor glyceryl trinitrate, together with a reduction in circulating levels of cGMP. Our data therefore suggest that the progression to type II diabetes mellitus in the obese Zucker rat mediated by a pro-oxidant insult is associated with impairments in agonist-stimulated, endothelium-dependent vasodilation and vascular NO signalling.