ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Migraine has been associated with cardiovascular disorders. Endothelial dysfunction may be a mechanism underlying this association. The present study tested the hypothesis that endothelium-dependent vasodilation, basal endothelial nitric oxide release and endothelial fibrinolytic capacity are impaired in migraine patients. METHODS: Graded doses of sodium nitroprusside (SNP, 0.2 to 0.8 microg.min 1.dL-1 forearm), substance P (0.2 to 0.8 pmol.min-1.dL-1 forearm) and NG monomethyl-L-arginine (L-NMMA, 0.1 to 0.4 micromol.min-1.dL-1 forearm) were infused into the brachial artery of 16 migraine patients with or without aura during a headache-free interval and 16 age- and sex-matched subjects without a history of migraine. Forearm blood flow (FBF) was measured by strain-gauge venous occlusion plethysmography. Local forearm release of tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) in response to substance P infusion was assessed using the arteriovenous plasma concentration gradient. Responses to infused drugs were compared between patients and matched controls by analysis of variance. RESULTS: In both migraine patients and control subjects, SNP and substance P caused a dose-dependent increase, and L NMMA a dose-dependent decrease in FBF (P < 0.001 for all responses). In both groups, substance P caused an increase in t-PA release (P < 0.001). FBF responses and t-PA release were comparable between migraine patients and control subjects. CONCLUSIONS: The absence of differences in endothelium-dependent vasodilation, basal endothelial nitric oxide production and stimulated t-PA release between migraine patients and healthy control subjects argues against the presence of endothelial dysfunction in forearm resistance vessels of migraine patients.