Previous studies have shown that long-term potentiation (LTP) in the dorsal horn may be induced by noxious stimuli. In this study it is investigated whether induction of LTP in the dorsal horn may be affected by the descending pathways. Extracellular recordings of wide dynamic range (WDR) neurones in the lumbar dorsal horn in intact urethane-anaesthetized Sprague--Dawley rats were performed, and the electrically evoked neuronal responses in these neurones were defined as A-fibre and C-fibre responses according to latencies. Using a short-term cold block of the thoracic spinal cord, which produced a completely reversible increase of the A-fibre and C-fibre responses, the influence of the descending inhibitory system on the induction of LTP by electrical high-frequency conditioning applied to the sciatic nerve was examined. As previously shown the A-fibre responses were almost unchanged following the conditioning. In contrast, the C-fibre responses following the same conditioning were strongly increased. Thus, a clear LTP of the nociceptive transmission in the dorsal horn was observed following electrical high-frequency conditioning. Interestingly, we found that the LTP was more powerful when the effects of the descending pathways were temporarily eliminated during conditioning. It is concluded that induction of LTP by electrical high-frequency conditioning stimulation, which may be part of the wider term central sensitization, is inhibited by descending pathways.