In barbiturate-anaesthetized spinalized cats, antibody microprobes were used to investigate the release of immunoreactive somatostatin (irSS) in the lumbar dorsal horn in response to cutaneous stimuli. In the absence of applied stimulation, a significant basal release of irSS was present in the region of the substantia gelatinosa. Such release was not increased by innocuous or noxious cutaneous mechanical stimuli nor by innocuous thermal stimuli, but was increased by noxious thermal stimulation. The magnitude of this noxious heat-evoked release was estimated by comparing in vivo microprobes with those used to detect known concentrations of somatostatin in vitro. Pairs of microprobes were used to detect simultaneous release of both irSS and immunoreactive substance P in the substantia gelatinosa. The results support the putative role of somatostatin in the spinal transmission of thermal nociceptive information.