The NADPH-diaphorase (as a neuronal NO-synthase) reactivity in the medullary structures of the respiratory rhythm (RR) generator and the role of NO in the regulation of respiratory activity in the phrenic nerve of artificially superfused semi-isolated medulla-spinal cord preparations were investigated in newborn rats. NADPH-diaphorase positive neurons were found in all nuclei of both dorsal and ventral respiratory groups of neurons. The maximal density of stained cells was present within the rostral part of the ventrolateral medulla (VLM), in the region of the lateral paragigantocellular reticular nucleus. It was found that endogenous NO mediates the mechanism of tonic inhibitory control of the RR frequency located in the rostral VLM under normal and hypoxic conditions, and appears to be involved in generation of the basic RR by the more caudal structures of VLM. It was shown that NO biosynthesis mediates the effect of NMDA receptors activation on the RR.