To examine the ascending projections from the headache-related trigeminocervical complex in rats, biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) was injected into the ventrolateral dorsal horn of segments C1 and C2, a region previously demonstrated to receive input from sensory nerves in cranial blood vessels. Following injections into laminae I-II, BDA-labelled terminations were found bilaterally in several nuclei in the pons and the midbrain, including the pontine reticular nucleus, the parabrachial nuclei, the cuneiform nucleus and the periaqueductal grey. In the diencephalon, terminations were confined to the contralateral side and evident foremost in the posterior nuclear group, especially its triangular part, and in the ventral posteromedial nucleus. Following injections extending through laminae I-IV, anterograde labelling was more extensive. Some of the above regions are likely to be involved in the central processing of noxious signals of craniovascular origin and therefore putatively involved in mechanisms associated with primary headaches.