Pulmonary hypertension is usually treated with intravenous (i.v.) vasodilators, but their use is limited by systemic effects. In the current study, we compared the effects of inhaled nitric oxide and intravenous nitroglycerine on pulmonary and systemic haemodynamic responses as well as on gas exchange measurements in anaesthetized pigs whose pulmonary pressure was increased by hypoxia (FiO2 = 15%). Both treatments reduced pulmonary pressure to the control level. Inhaled nitric oxide did not affect systemic arterial pressure but intravenous nitroglycerine decreased it from 126.2 to 108.8 mmHg (P = 0.04). Unlike intravenous nitroglycerine, inhaled nitric oxide increased arterial PaO2 from 5.3 to 5.9 kPa (P = 0.02). Both treatments diminished central venous pressure and left atrial pressure, suggesting a possible cardiac effect. Inhaled nitric oxide was shown to be a potent pulmonary vasodilator which attenuated pulmonary hypertension and improved arterial oxygenation without important direct effects on systemic pressure in porcine hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension.