A major dose-limiting side effect of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) chemotherapies, such as the nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), is a small-fiber painful peripheral neuropathy, mediated by its mitochondrial toxicity. Co-morbid conditions may also contribute to this dose-limiting effect of HIV/AIDS treatment. Alcohol abuse, which alone also produces painful neuropathy, is one of the most important co-morbid risk factors for peripheral neuropathy in patients with HIV/AIDS. Despite the prevalence of this problem and its serious impact on the quality of life and continued therapy in HIV/AIDS patients, the mechanisms by which alcohol abuse exacerbates highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)-induced neuropathic pain has not been demonstrated. In this study, performed in rats, we investigated the cellular mechanism by which consumed alcohol impacts antiretroviral-induced neuropathic pain. NRTI 2′,3′-dideoxycytidine (ddC; 50 mg/kg) neuropathy was mitochondrial-dependent and PKCε-independent, and alcohol-induced painful neuropathy was PKCε-dependent and mitochondrial-independent. At low doses, ddC (5 mg/kg) and alcohol (6.5% ethanol diet for 1 week), which alone do not affect nociception, together produce profound mechanical hyperalgesia. This hyperalgesia is mitochondrial-dependent but PKCε-independent. These experiments, which provide the first model for studying the impact of co-morbidity in painful neuropathy, support the clinical impression that alcohol consumption enhances HIV/AIDS therapy neuropathy, and provide evidence for a role of mitochondrial mechanisms underlying this interaction.