The present study evaluated the effect of dietary vitamin E supplementation (1,000 mg/kg chow) on the alterations in vascular reactivity of streptozotocin-diabetic aorta of Wistar rats, After 12 weeks of treatment, thoracic aortic rings of rats were mounted in organ baths and contractile responses to phenylephrine and 5-hydroxytryptamine and relaxant responses to acetylcholine, calcium ionophore and sodium nitroprusside were assessed. Plasma vitamin E concentration as measured by HPLC was markedly decreased in diabetic rats and increased with dietary vitamin E supplementation. Induction of diabetes significantly impaired endothelium-dependent relaxations to acetylcholine and calcium ionophore in aortic rings, but did not change endothelium-independent relaxation to sodium nitroprusside. Vitamin E significantly improved the impaired endothelium-dependent relaxations, further it decreased the enhanced contractile response to phenylephrine and 5-hydroxytryptamine in diabetic rings. The mechanical denudation of endothelium or the chemical inhibition of endothelium-dependent relaxation with N-omega-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (100 mu mol/l) significantly increased phenylephrine contractility in control rings and the rings of diabetic rats treated with vitamin E; such a difference was not observed in diabetic rats fed with normal diet. Liver and lung malondialdehyde concentrations, as an index of lipid peroxidation, were increased in diabetic rats and significantly decreased with vitamin E supplementation. It is concluded that dietary supplementation of vitamin E improved endothelial dysfunction in insulin-dependent model of uncontrolled diabetes, probably decreasing membranal lipid peroxidation. Copyright (C) 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel.