Abstract Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF) injected into the sciatic nerve and neutralizing antibodies to its receptor injected around the nerve are respectively associated with inducing and blocking pain behavior beginning 1 to 3 days post-injection. This study examined the acute effects of TNF applied around the nerve trunk on the mechanical threshold (determined with von Frey hairs) and withdrawal latency to radiant heat. TNF (0.9 and 7.7 ng in 90 μL) injected onto the nerve via an indwelling catheter elicited a decrease in mechanical threshold. Following the low dose of TNF, no change in thermal latency was observed; after the 7.7 ng dose, thermal thresholds decreased and returned to baseline multiple times within the 3-hour observation period. Identical doses of TNF injected near, but not on the nerve, 90 ng of TNF injected on the nerve, and vehicle were without effect on either modality. These data indicate that effects of acutely administered TNF to the nerve trunk are capable of producing modality specific pain behavior. These changes may represent a first step in TNF-induced neuropathic pain.