It is generally acknowledged that humans display highly variable sensitivity to pain, including variable responses to identical injuries or pathologies. The possible contribution of genetic factors has, however, been largely overlooked. An emerging rodent literature documents the importance of genotype in mediating basal nociceptive sensitivity, in establishing a predisposition to neuropathic pain following neural injury, and in determining sensitivity to pharmacological agents and endogenous antinociception. One clear finding from these studies is that the effect of genotype is at least partially specific to the nociceptive assay being considered. In this report we begin to systematically describe and characterize genetic variability of nociception in a mammalian species, Mus musculus. We tested 11 readily-available inbred mouse strains (129/J, A/J, AKR/J, BALB/cJ, C3H/HeJ, C57BL/6J, C58/J, CBA/J, DBA/2J, RIIIS/J and SM/J) using 12 common measures of nociception. These included assays for thermal nociception (hot plate, Hargreaves' test, tail withdrawal), mechanical nociception (von Frey filaments), chemical nociception (abdominal constriction, carrageenan, formalin), and neuropathic pain (autotomy, Chung model peripheral nerve injury). We demonstrate the existence of clear strain differences in each assay, with 1.2 to 54-fold ranges of sensitivity. All nociceptive assays display moderate-to-high heritability (h2 = 0.30-0.76) and mediation by a limited number of apparent genetic loci. Data comparing inbred strains have considerable utility as a tool for understanding the genetics of nociception, and a particular relevance to transgenic studies.