the metabolisms of reactive nitrogen and oxygen intermediates (rni and roi) in patients with cutaneous leishmaniasis (cl) were investigated and compared with those of healthy subjects. to determine rni metabolism, nitrite plus nitrate concentrations were measured spectrophotometrically. nitrite concentration in plasma was determined directly by the griess method. nitrate levels in plasma were measured after reduction into nitrite by using copper-cadmium-zinc. roi metabolism was evaluated by measuring erythrocyte superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase activities. plasma nitrite plus nitrate levels and erythrocyte superoxide dismutase activity were higher in the patient group than healthy subjects (p<0.01). in contrast, erythrocyte catalase and glutathione peroxidase activities were lower (p<0.05, p<0.01, respectively). roi metabolism was altered in relation to hydrogen peroxide elevation in patients with cl. these alterations in roi enable nitric oxide (no) to amplify its leishmanicidal effect. the determination of roi and rni in patients with cl may be a useful tool to evaluate effector mechanisms of no and clinical manifestations.