The effects of various doses of L-arginine, a nitric oxide substrate, on lithium-pilocarpine-induced seizures were studied in rats. Rats were implanted with chronic, stainless steel screw electrodes epidurally for electrocortical recordings. A control group received 3 mEq/kg LiCl (i.p.) and 24 h later 45 mg/kg pilocarpine HCl (i.p.). Two different experimental procedures were followed: (1) L-arginine was applied in doses of 100 mg/kg, 300 mg/kg or 500 mg/kg (i.p.), 30 min before pilocarpine injection; (2) 100 mg/kg, 500 mg/kg or 1000 mg/kg (i.p.) L-arginine was injected either 5 min or 30 min after the onset of status epilepticus (SE). L-arginine (300 mg/kg) injected 30 min before pilocarpine significantly reduced the percentage of SE, but did not change the latency to SE or 24-hour survival. These parameters were not significantly affected by the 100 mg/kg or 500 mg/kg dose of L-arginine. On the other hand, no dose of L-arginine that was applied after SE had begun, had any significant influence on the seizures. We concluded that L-arginine may prevent seizure activity in some but not all doses, and does not have any effect on the ongoing seizure activity.