S-nitrosothiols exert multiple effects on neural processes in the central and peripheral nervous system. This study shows that intravenous infusion of S-nitroso-L-cysteine (SNO-L-CYS, 1 μmol/kg/min) in anesthetized male Sprague Dawley rats elicits (a) sustained increases in minute ventilation, via increases in frequency of breathing and tidal volume, (b) a decrease in Alveolar-arterial (A-a) gradient, thus improving alveolar gas-exchange, (c) concomitant changes in arterial blood-gas chemistry, such as an increase in pO and a decrease in pCO, (d) a decrease in mean arterial blood pressure (MAP), and (e) an increase in tail-flick (TF) latency (antinociception). Infusion of S-nitroso-D-cysteine (SNO-D-CYS, 1 μmol/kg/min, IV), did not elicit similar responses, except for a sustained decrease in MAP equivalent to that elicited by SNO-L-CYS. A bolus injection of morphine (2 mg/kg, IV) in rats receiving an infusion of vehicle elicited (a) sustained decreases in frequency of breathing tidal volume, and therefore minute ventilation, (b) a sustained decrease in MAP, (c) sustained decreases in pH, pO and maximal sO with sustained increases in pCO and A-a gradient, and (d) a sustained increase in TF latency. In rats receiving SNO-L-CYS infusion, morphine elicited markedly smaller changes in minute ventilation, arterial blood gas chemistry, A-a gradient and MAP. In contrast, the antinociceptive effects of morphine were enhanced in rats receiving the infusion of SNO-L-CYS. The morphine-induced responses in rats receiving SNO-D-CYS infusion were similar to vehicle-infused rats. These data are the first to demonstrate that infusion of an S-nitrosothiol, such as SNO-L-CYS, can stereoselectively ameliorate the adverse effects of morphine on breathing and alveolar gas exchange while promoting antinociception.