The effect of clomipramine (CMI), a tricyclic antidepressant, was studied on an acute inflammatory pain model in an attempt to understand its potential antinociceptive activity, the involvement of a central and/or peripheral component and its influence on the inflammatory process. When administered (i.v.) before the inflammatory agent, carrageenan (CAR), CMI (0.125, 0.25 and 0.5 mg/kg) completely prevented the development of the hyperalgesia for 70-120 min according to the doses. This antinociceptive effect was suppressed by naloxone (100 micrograms/kg i.v.) for 65 min. Neither higher doses (1, 2 and 20 mg/kg, i.v.) nor CMI injected into the inflamed paw (15 min before CAR) modified pain thresholds. Moreover, CMI (0.5 and 2 mg/kg, i.v.) administered 15 min before CAR markedly increased the volume of the CAR-induced oedema. These results (1) demonstrate an opioid-dependent antinociceptive effect of CMI on this model, the doses used being lower than those active in thermal or electrical tests, and (2) tend to exclude a peripheral mechanism and an NSAID-like anti-inflammatory activity suggested by previous in vitro studies.