Neurogenic inflammation of the dura mater encephali has been suggested to contribute to the mechanisms of meningeal nociception and blood flow regulation. Recent findings demonstrated that the rat dura mater is innervated by trigeminal capsaicin-sensitive peptidergic nociceptive afferent nerves which mediate meningeal vascular responses through activation of the transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) receptor. The present work explored the functional significance of the capsaicin-sensitive subpopulation of dural afferent nerves via their contribution to the meningeal vascular responses evoked through activation of the proteinase-activated receptor 2 (PAR-2). The vascular responses of the dura mater were studied by laser Doppler flowmetry in a rat open cranial window preparation. Topical applications of trypsin, a PAR-2-activator, or Ser-Leu-Ile-Gly-Arg-Leu-amide (SLIGRL-NH(2)), a selective PAR-2 agonist peptide, resulted in dose-dependent increases in meningeal blood flow. The SLIGRL-NH(2)-induced vasodilatation was significantly reduced following capsaicin-sensitive afferent nerve defunctionalization by prior systemic capsaicin treatment and by pretreatment of the dura mater with the calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor antagonist CGRP(8-37). Nomega-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester hydrochloride (L-NAME) an unspecific inhibitor of nitric oxide (NO) production, but not 1-(2-trifluoromethylphenyl) imidazole (TRIM), a neuronal NO synthase inhibitor, also inhibited the vasodilator response to SLIGRL-NH(2). The vasodilator responses elicited by very low concentrations of capsaicin (10 nM) were significantly enhanced by prior application of SLIGRL-NH(2). The present findings demonstrate that activation of the PAR-2 localized on capsaicin-sensitive trigeminal nociceptive afferent nerves induces vasodilatation in the dural vascular bed by mechanisms involving NO and CGRP release. The results indicate that the PAR-2-mediated activation and sensitization of meningeal capsaicin-sensitive C-fiber nociceptors may be significantly implicated in the pathophysiology of headaches.