The neuropeptide substance P is thought to play an important role in nociception, although the function of the peptide remains controversial. Following peripheral inflammation there is a pronounced upregulation of substance P expression both in sensory neurons and in postsynaptic neurons within the spinal cord. We have examined the levels of expression of mRNA encoding substance P and dynorphin following the development of inflammatory hyperalgesia in mice in which the substance P receptor gene, also known as the neurokinin-1 receptor gene, has been disrupted by homologous recombination. We show that inflammatory hyperalgesia following injection of complete Freund's adjuvant develops normally in animals that lack the neurokinin-1 receptor and that expression of mRNAs encoding substance P and the neuropeptide dynorphin are upregulated regardless of the genotype of the mouse. This suggests that substance P activity is not required for the development and maintenance of inflammatory hyperalgesia and that the upregulation of substance P expression is mediated by neurotransmitters other than substance P.