Abstract: Pruritus is an important symptom in atopic dermatitis (AD), but the major pruritogen have not been identified. NC/Nga mice, spontaneously develop an eczematous AD-like skin lesion when kept under conventional conditions, but not under specific pathogen-free (SPF) conditions, have been thought to be an animal model for AD. In this study, to determine whether newly identified cytokine, IL-31, may be involved in pruritus of AD, we examined the IL-31 expression in spontaneous dermatitis model which showed itch-associated long-lasting (over 1.5 s duration) scratching behavior and compared with that of hapten-induced contact dermatitis model without itch-associated long-lasting scratching behavior, using NC/Nga mice. In NC/Nga mice cohabited with NC/Nga mice which developed severe dermatitis for 2 weeks (conventional NC/Nga mice), the numbers of long-lasting scratching counts were significantly increased. Yet in 2,4,6-trinitrochlorobenzene (TNCB)-sensitized and challenged mice (TNCB-applied NC/Nga mice), no significant increase in long-lasting scratching counts was observed. In conventional NC/Nga mice with long-lasting scratching behavior, expression of IL-31 mRNA was increased, while in TNCB-applied NC/Nga mice without long-lasting scratching behavior, the expression of IL-31 mRNA were unchanged. There was a good correlation between the scratching counts and expression of IL-31 mRNA in conventional NC/Nga mice, but not so in TNCB-applied NC/Nga mice. These results suggest that IL-31 causes the itch-associated scratching behavior in conventional NC/Nga mice, an experimental animal model for AD.