The effect of peripheral and intrathecal administration of the bradykinin B2 receptor antagonist HOE140 and the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin were studied on the response of dorsal horn nociceptive neurones to formalin in the anaesthetized rat. Peripheral pretreatment with HOE140 reduced both phases of the formalin response whereas subcutaneous administration of indomethacin (5 mg/kg) reduced only the second phase. Pre-treatment with intrathecal HOE140 resulted in a dose-dependent reduction of the second phase whereas a high dose (500 micrograms) intrathecal indomethacin reduced both phases of the response. Bradykinin plays a role in peripheral nociception during the first and second phase of the response whereas the prostaglandins are only involved during the second phase. The converse is true centrally, the prostaglandins appear to be involved in both phases of the formalin response whereas bradykinin only plays a central role during the second phase of the response.