Oral administration of an infusion of lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) fresh leaves to rats produced a dose-dependent analgesia for the hyperalgesia induced by subplantar injections of either carrageenin or prostaglandin E2, but did not affect that induced by dibutyryl cyclic AMP. These results indicate a peripheral site of action which was confirmed with the essential oil obtained by steam distillation of the leaves. Silica gel column fractionation of the essential oil allowed the identification of myrcene as the major analgesic component in the oil. Identification of the components was made by thin-layer chromatography and checked by mass spectrometry. The peripheral analgesic effect of myrcene was confirmed by testing a standard commercial preparation on the hyperalgesia induced by prostaglandin in the rat paw test and upon the contortions induced by intraperitoneal injections of iloprost in mice. In contrast to the central analgesic effect of morphine, myrcene did not cause tolerance on repeated injection in rats. This analgesic activity supports the use of lemongrass tea as a "sedative" in folk medicine. Terpenes such as myrcene may constitute a lead for the development of new peripheral analgesics with a profile of action different from that of the aspirin-like drugs.