Nociceptin (orphanin FQ) may act on primary afferents and be involved in the regulation of nociceptive processing. We have shown, using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), that carrageenan-produced peripheral inflammation induces the expression of prepronociceptin (PPN) mRNA in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG). The present experiments were conducted to determine the localization of PPN mRNA in primary sensory neurons after peripheral inflammation, using in situ hybridization. An intraplantar injection of carrageenan induced the expression of PPN mRNA in small and medium sized neurons in the DRG; the effect peaked 0.5 h after carrageenan and subsided by 6 h. All neurons positive for PPN mRNA were positive for vanilloid receptor subtype 1 (VR1)-like immunoreactivity and some VR1-immunoreactive neurons were negative for PPN mRNA. The results suggest that peripheral inflammation induces the production of nociceptin in a sub-population of VR1-positive primary sensory neurons and support the idea that nociceptin produced there is involved in the regulation of nociceptive processing.