Segmental and laminar distribution of Fos-like immunoreactive, reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase (NADPHd)-exhibiting and double-labeled (Fos-like immunoreactive and NADPHd-exhibiting) neurons was examined in lower lumbar and sacral segments of the dog spinal cord using the model of multiple cauda equina constrictions. NADPHd histochemistry was used as marker of nitric oxide synthase-containing neurons. The appearance and the time-course of Fos-like immunoreactive, NADPHd and double-labeled neurons was studied at 2 h and 8 h postconstriction characterized as the incipient phase of cauda equina syndrome. The occurrence of Fos-like immunoreactive and NADPHd-exhibiting neurons in fully developed cauda equina syndrome was studied at five days postconstriction. An increase in Fos-like immunoreactivity in superficial laminae (I-II) and an enhanced NADPHd staining of lamina VIII neurons were found. A statistically significant increase in Fos-like immunoreactive neurons was found in laminae I-II and VIII-X 8 h postconstriction, and in contrast, a prominent decrease in Fos-like immunoreactive neurons was found in laminae I-II, accompanied by a statistically significant increase in Fos-like immunoreactive neurons in more ventrally located laminae VII-X at five days postconstriction. Quantitative analysis of laminar distribution of constriction-induced NADPHd-exhibiting neurons revealed a considerable increase in these neurons in laminae VIII-IX 8 h postconstriction and a statistically highly significant increase in NADPHd-exhibiting neurons in laminae VII-X five days postconstriction. Concurrently, the number of NADPHd-exhibiting neurons in laminae I-II was greatly reduced. While a low number of double-labeled neurons was found throughout the gray matter of lower lumbar and sacral segments at 2 h postconstriction, a statistically significant number of double-labeled neurons was found in lamina X 8 h and in laminae VII-X five days postconstriction. The course and distribution of anterograde degeneration resulting five days after multiple cauda equina constrictions are compared with segmental and laminar distribution of Fos-like immunoreactive and NADPHd-exhibiting neurons. Prominent involvement of the spinal cord neurons appearing in the lumbosacral segments at the early beginning and in fully developed cauda equina syndrome results in a Fos-like immunoreactivity and strongly enhanced NADPHd staining of some neuronal pools. Under such circumstances, an early cauda equina decompression surgery is advisable aimed at decreasing or preventing the derangement of the neural circuits in the lumbosacral segments.