Vanilloid receptor 1 (VR1) is expressed by sensory neurons. Once activated, these neurons evoke the sensation of burning pain and release neuropeptides that induce neurogenic inflammation. We used immunoblotting and immunostaining to estimate the density of VR1 in colonic tissues of patients with inflammatory bowel disease and of controls. Our study results indicate that VR1 immunoreactivity is greatly increased in colonic nerve fibres of patients with active inflammatory bowel disease. Thus, the discovery of new drugs that can bind the VR1 receptor, or antagonise endogenous inflammatory substances that activate this receptor, could lead to new therapies for pain and dysmotility.