An acute bout of aerobic exercise elicits a sustained postexercise vasodilatation that is mediated by histamine H1 and H2 receptor activation. However, the upstream signalling pathway that leads to postexercise histamine receptor activation is unknown. We tested the hypothesis that the potent antioxidant ascorbate would inhibit this histaminergic vasodilatation following exercise. Subjects performed 1 h of unilateral dynamic knee extension at 60% of peak power in three conditions: (i) control; (ii) i.v. ascorbate infusion; and (iii) ascorbate infusion plus oral H1/H2 histamine receptor blockade. Femoral artery blood flow was measured (using Doppler ultrasound) before exercise and for 2 h postexercise. Femoral vascular conductance was calculated as flow/pressure. Postexercise vascular conductance was greater for control conditions (3.4 ± 0.1 ml min-1 mmHg-1) compared with ascorbate (2.7 ± 0.1 ml min-1 mmHg-1; P < 0.05) and ascorbate plus H1/H2 blockade (2.8 ± 0.1 ml min-1 mmHg-1; P < 0.05), which did not differ from one another (P = 0.9). Given that ascorbate may catalyse the degradation of histamine in vivo, we conducted a follow-up study, in which subjects performed exercise in two conditions: (i) control; and (ii) i.v. N-acetylcysteine infusion. Postexercise vascular conductance was similar for control (4.0 ± 0.1 ml min-1 mmHg-1) and N-acetylcysteine conditions (4.0 ± 0.1 ml min-1 mmHg-1; P = 0.8). Thus, the results in the initial study were due to the degradation of histamine in skeletal muscle by ascorbate, because the histaminergic vasodilatation was unaffected by N-acetylcysteine. Overall, exercise-induced oxidative stress does not appear to contribute to sustained postexercise vasodilatation.