Activation of either B1 or B2 bradykinin receptors by kinins released from damaged tissues contributes to the development and maintenance of inflammatory hyperalgesia. Whereas B2 agonists activate sensory neurones directly, B1 agonists were thought only to have indirect actions on sensory neurones. The recent discovery of constitutive B1 receptor expression in the rat nervous system lead us to re-investigate the role of neuronal B1 receptors in inflammatory hyperalgesia. Therefore we have examined B1 bradykinin receptor regulation in rat dorsal root ganglia in a model of inflammatory hyperalgesia, and correlated it with hyperalgesic behaviour. Twenty-four hours after injection of Freund's complete adjuvant into one hindpaw, there was a significant increase in B1 protein expression (measured by immunohistochemistry) in both ipsilateral and contralateral dorsal root ganglion neurones, whereas axotomy resulted in reduction of B1 protein in ipsilateral dorsal root ganglia. In behavioural experiments, the B1 antagonist desArg10HOE140, administered by either intrathecal or systemic routes, attenuated Freund's complete adjuvant-induced mechanical hyperalgesia in the inflamed paw, but did not affect mechanical allodynia. The B1 agonist, desArg9BK, did not affect paw withdrawal thresholds in nai;ve rats following intraplantar administration into the paw, whilst intrathecal administration elicited mechanical hyperalgesia. However, after Freund's complete adjuvant-induced inflammation, desArg9BK caused a marked mechanical hyperalgesia, by either route, of the contralateral, uninflamed hindpaw, correlating with the observed contralateral and ipsilateral increases in receptor levels. Our results suggest a functional role for B1 receptors expressed both in the periphery and in the spinal cord, in mechanical hyperalgesia during inflammation.