Brain stem interneuronal excitability can be assessed by recording the recovery cycle of the blink reflex and exteroceptive suppression of temporalis muscle activity. Abnormal endogenous pain control mechanisms due to disturbed brain stem interneuronal activity have been implicated in the pathogenesis of tension-type headaches. The blink reflex, exteroceptive suppression of temporalis muscle activity, and the recovery curve of both the R2 component of the blink reflex and the ES2 component of the exteroceptive suppression of the temporalis muscle activity were studied in 20 patients with migraine without aura, 32 patients with tension-type headache, and 20 normal controls. In our study, the blink reflex was elicited by stimulation of the supraorbital nerve; the exteroceptive suppression of the temporalis muscle activity was elicited by applying electrical shocks to the labial commissure, both on the lower and upper sides. The recovery cycle was established by delivering paired shocks at different interstimulus intervals. Comparisons were made between normal control subjects, patients with migraine without aura, and patients with tension-type headache. The latency of R1, R2, and R2′, the amplitude and size of the R2 and R2′ components of the blink reflex, the latency and duration of the ES1 and ES2 components, and the recovery curve of the ES2 component of the temporalis muscle activity did not differ between groups. However, the recovery curve of the R2 component of the blink reflex diminished in patients with tension-type headache compared with the other groups. Our findings indicate reduced excitability of the brain stem interneurons in patients with tension-type headache.