Spreading depression (SD) and migraine aura involve transiently altered (i.e., increased followed by decreased) electrophysiological activity that propagates at the distinctive rate of millimeters per minute (mm/min), leading to the suggestion that they (and perhaps pain from migraine) are causally related via changes in the same brain structure. Neocortex is considered the anatomical zone associated with migraine aura and is the sole area known to induce caudal trigeminal nucleus (TNC) activation from SD in rodents. However, classical evidence of SD in human neocortex is reported only with severe brain disease, while migraine is a common and comparatively benign disorder. Because SD occurs in human hippocampus, and memory dysfunction referable to hippocampus is seen in migraineurs, we determined whether recurrent SD confined to hippocampus in rat could induce TNC activation. Our work shows that recurrent hippocampal SD evoked a significant (P < 0.05–0.001) increase in bilateral c-fos immunostaining within TNC superficial laminae compared with sham controls. Furthermore, hippocampal SD occurred with a correlated and transient change in spontaneous activity and blood flow in the ipsilateral neocortex without spread of SD to that area. Thus, hippocampal SD may be a previously unrecognized, potential trigger for nociceptive activation of TNC perhaps associated with migraine. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.