It has been shown that the association of diclofenac with other analgesic agents can increase its antinociceptive activity, allowing the use of lower doses and thus limiting side effects. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to examine the possible pharmacological interaction between diclofenac and gabapentin at the peripheral level in the rat using the 5% formalin test and isobolographic analysis. Diclofenac, gabapentin or a fixed-dose ratio diclofenac-gabapentin combination were administrated locally in the formalin-injured paw and the antinociceptive effect was evaluated using the 5% formalin test. All treatments produced a dose-dependent antinociceptive effect. ED30 values were estimated for the individual drugs and an isobologram was constructed. The derived theoretical ED30 for the diclofenac-gabapentin combination was 597.5+/-87.5 microg/paw, being significantly higher than the actually observed experimental value, 170.9+/-26.07 microg/paw. These results correspond to a synergistic interaction between diclofenac and gabapentin at the peripheral level, potency being about three times higher with regard to that expected from the addition of the effects of the individual drugs. Data suggest that low doses of the diclofenac-gabapentin combination can interact synergistically at the peripheral level and therefore this drug association may represent a therapeutic advantage for the clinical treatment of inflammatory pain.