Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common and disabling chronic joint disorders affecting horses, dogs and humans. Synovial inflammation or synovitis is a frequently observed phenomenon in osteoarthritic joints and contributes to the pathogenesis of OA through formation of various catabolic and pro-inflammatory mediators altering the balance of cartilage matrix degradation and repair. Catabolic mediators produced by the inflamed synovium include pro-inflammatory cytokines, nitric oxide, prostaglandin E(2) and several neuropeptides, which further contribute to the pathogenesis of OA by increasing cartilage degradation. Recent studies suggest that substance P, corticotropin-releasing factor, urocortin and vasoactive intestinal peptide may also be involved in OA development, but the precise role of these neuropeptides in the pathogenesis of OA is not known. Since increased production of matrix metalloproteinases by the synovium is stimulated by pro-inflammatory cytokines, future anti-inflammatory therapies should focus on the synovium as a means of controlling subsequent inflammatory damage.