Résumé : The radiosensitizing activity of S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine (SNAP), a nitric oxide (NO) donor, was assessed in a model of non-metabolic hypoxia achieved in an atmosphere of 95% nitrogen-5% carbon dioxide. A 10 min preincubation of hypoxic EMT-6 cells (10 x 106 ml-1) with 0.1 and 1 mM SNAP before radiation resulted in an enhancement ratio of 1.6 and 1.7 respectively. The level of spontaneous NO release, measured by a NO specific microsensor, correlated directly with the concentration of SNAP and was enhanced 50 times in the presence of cells. Dilution of the cell suspension from 10 to 0.1 x 106 ml-1 resulted in a 16-fold decline in NO release, but only a twofold decrease in radiosensitization was observed. Preincubation of hypoxic cells with SNAP for 3 min up to 30 min caused an increasing radiosensitizing effect. Extended preincubation of 100 min led to the loss of radiosensitization although the half-life of SNAP is known to be 4-5 h. Taken together, these observations suggest that SNAP generates NO predominantly by a bioreductive mechanism and that its biological half-life is unlikely to exceed 30 min. The lack of correlation between free NO radical and radiosensitizing activity may reflect a role of intracellular NO adducts which could contribute to radiosensitization as well.