Non-allergic rhinitis may be a contributing factor in up to 60% of rhinitis patients and a sole contributor in a quarter. It is a highly heterogeneous condition with poorly understood pathophysiological mechanisms. Compelling evidence is emerging of a localized nasal mucosal allergic response in some non-allergic rhinitic subjects in the absence of systemic atopy. While the inflammatory disease pathway in non-allergic rhinitis may share some of the features of its allergic counterpart, overall the mechanisms remain unclear, and there are likely to be differences. In particular, symptoms of nasal congestion and rhinorrhoea tend to be more prominent and persistent in non-allergic rhinitic patients compared with allergic rhinitis. Our aim is to review the literature relating to mechanisms and mediators of nasal symptoms in non-allergic rhinitis. Better understanding of the underlying pathophysiological basis should enable the development of more accurate testing, and better targeted therapeutic options in the future.