Mechanisms of spinal manipulation and mobilization include the elicitation of neuromuscular responses, but it is not clear how these responses are affected or altered by disc degeneration. We studied the neurophysiological responses of the normal and degenerated ovine spine subjected to mechanical excitation (varying force amplitude and duration) consistent with spinal manipulative therapy (SMT). Needle electromyographic (EMG) multifidus muscle activation adjacent to the L3 and L4 spinous processes and compound action potentials (CAPs) of the L4 nerve roots were measured during the application of dorsoventral mechanical excitation forces designed to mimic SMT force-time profiles used routinely in clinical practice. The magnitude and percentage of positive EMG responses increased with increasing SMT force magnitude, but not SMT pulse duration, whereas CAP responses were greatest for shorter duration pulses. Disc degeneration was associated with a reduction (20-25%) in positive EMG responses, and a concomitant increase (4.5-10.2%) in CAP responses.