Bradykinin (BK) has long been recognized as an important mediator of pain and inflammation. In normal tissue bradykinin causes an acute sensation of pain by an action at B2 receptors, but in inflamed tissue the pharmacology of the response changes to that of B1 receptors. Attempts to demonstrate the presence of functional B1 receptors in sensory neurones have failed, however, and the actions of B1 agonists have therefore been presumed to be indirect. Here we show that specific B1 receptor activation causes translocation of the epsilon isoform of protein kinase C (PKC-epsilon) to the membrane of a small fraction of freshly isolated sensory neurones from rats and mice. The proportion of neurones in which PKC-epsilon translocation was observed increased to around 20% of neurones after 3 days in culture with the neurotrophins glial cell line derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and neurturin, but not with nerve growth factor (NGF). Using in situ hybridization we found that the proportion of neurones expressing B1 mRNA increased from close to zero to 20.4% after 8 h culture in GDNF. Neurones expressing functional B1 receptors were negative for the neuropeptides CGRP and substance P, but most expressed functional TRPV1 receptors for capsaicin (60%) and bound the lectin IB4 (68%), both markers characteristic of nociceptors. B1 activation enhanced the heat-activated membrane current approximately 3-fold, and the enhancement was much more prolonged than was the case with B2 activation, consistent with a role for B1 receptors in sustained pain. We conclude that GDNF and neurturin potently upregulate functional B1 receptor expression in small non-peptidergic nociceptive neurones.