Nociceptin/orphanin FQ (nociceptin/OFQ), a newly discovered heptadecapeptide has been regarded as an endogenous ligand for orphan opioid receptor. The present study was designed to investigate the effect of nociceptin/OFQ on pain response and opioid analgesia in the rat formalin test. The results showed that intracerebroventricular injection of 1 microg nociceptin/OFQ enhanced the pain response, and 0.1 or 0.5 microg nociceptin/OFQ had no effect on formalin-induced pain. When 0.1 or 1 microg nociceptin/OFQ were used together with mu-, delta-, or kappa-opioid receptor agonists, endomorphin-1, DSLET or U50488H, respectively, it attenuated mu- and kappa- but not delta-receptor mediated analgesia. On the other hand, intrathecal injection of nociceptin/OFQ (0.1, 1 and 5 microg) reduced the pain response in the formalin test. In conclusion, nociceptin/OFQ potentiated formalin-induced pain response and antagonized opioid analgesia in the rat brain but inhibited pain response in the spinal cord.