The phylogenetic distribution and structural diversity of the nitric oxide synthases (NOS) remain important and issues that are little understood. We present sequence information, as well as phylogenetic analysis, for three NOS cDNAs identified in two non-mammalian species: the vertebrate marine teleost fish Stenotomus chrysops (scup) and the invertebrate echinoderm Arbacia punctulata (sea urchin). Partial gene sequences containing the well-conserved calmodulin (CaM)-binding domain were amplified by RT-PCR. Identical 375-bp cDNAs were amplified from scup brain, heart, liver and spleen; this sequence shares 82% nucleic acid and 91% predicted amino acid identity with the corresponding region of human neuronal NOS. A 387-bp cDNA was amplified from sea urchin ovary and testes; this sequence shares 72% nucleic acid identity and 65% deduced amino acid identity with human neuronal NOS. A second cDNA of 381 bp was amplified from sea urchin ovary and it shares 66% nucleic acid and 57% deduced amino acid identity with the first sea urchin sequence. Together with earlier reports of neuronal and inducible NOS sequences in fish, these data indicate that multiple NOS isoforms exist in non-mammalian species. Phylogenetic analysis of these sequences confirms the conserved nature of NOS, particularly of the calmodulin-binding domains.