Previous studies have raised the possibility that a decrease in voltage-gated K+ currents may contribute to hyperexcitability of injured dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons and the emergence of neuropathic pain. We examined the effects of axotomy on mRNA levels for various Kv1 family subunits and voltage-gated K+ currents in L4-L5 DRG neurons from sham-operated and sciatic nerve-transected rats. RNase protection assay revealed that Kv1.1 and Kv 1.2 mRNAs are highly abundant while Kv1.3, Kv1.4, Kv1.5 and Kv1.6 mRNAs were detected at lower levels in L4-L5 DRGs from sham and intact rats. Axotomy significantly decreased Kv1.1, Kv1.2, Kv1.3 and Kv1.4 mRNA levels by approximately 35%, approximately 60%, approximately 40% and approximately 80%, respectively, but did not significantly change Kv1.5 or Kv1.6 mRNA levels. Patch clamp recordings revealed two types of K+ currents in small-sized L4-L5 DRG neurons: sustained delayed rectifier currents elicited from a -40 mV holding potential and slowly inactivating A-type currents that was additionally activated from a -120 mV holding potential. Axotomy decreased both types of K+ currents by 50-60% in injured DRG neurons. In addition, axotomy increased the alpha-dendrotoxin sensitivity of the delayed rectifier, but not slow A-type K+ currents in injured DRG neurons. These results suggest that Kv1.1 and Kv1.2 subunits are major components of voltage-gated K+ channels in L4-L5 DRG neurons and that the decreased expression of Kv1-family subunits significantly contributes to the reduction and altered kinetics of Kv current in axotomized neurons.