Neurotrophins are known to promote survival after neural injury. To determine the relative importance of tyrosine kinase receptors on the survival of axotomized trigeminal nuclear neurons, we examined the temporal expression profile of tyrosine kinase A, tyrosine kinase B and tyrosine kinase C receptors in the mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus and the motor trigeminal nucleus following transection of the masseteric nerve in rats. Axotomized neurons in these nuclei were retrogradely identified with FluoroGold. We found increase in tyrosine kinase A-immunoreactive mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus neurons in the second week after axotomy but no change in the number of tyrosine kinase A-immunoreactive motor trigeminal nucleus neurons. There was no change in the number of tyrosine kinase B-immunoreactive mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus neurons but the significant increase of tyrosine kinase B-immunoreactive motor trigeminal nucleus neurons throughout the period of observation (3 weeks) peaked at approximately 1 week after axotomy. There was no alteration in the number of tyrosine kinase C-immunoreactive mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus neurons but significant increase in tyrosine kinase C-immunoreactive motor trigeminal nucleus neurons observable by 4 days post-axotomy was followed by decline to levels lower than the control in 2 weeks. Temporal changes in the expression of individual tyrosine kinase receptors in mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus and motor trigeminal nucleus neurons following transection of the masseteric nerve suggest differential contribution of tyrosine kinase-specific neurotrophins to the survival of these neurons after axotomy.