Using in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry and receptor binding methodology, the galanin messenger RNA levels, galanin binding and galanin-like immunoreactivity were examined in rats injected with carrageenan into the left hindpaw. Three days after injection, a distinct increase (63%) in galanin messenger RNA-positive neurons was observed in the medial laminae I and II of the ipsilateral dorsal horn (lumbar 4 and 5) as compared to the contralateral side. However, no alteration was found in galanin binding and galanin-like immunoreactivity in the dorsal horn. In dorsal root ganglia (lumbar 5), inflammation induced a significant decrease in galanin messenger RNA (39%) and galanin peptide (47%) on the ipsilateral side. Galanin binding was not detected in dorsal root ganglia, neither on the inflammatory nor on the control side. Increased levels of galanin-like immunoreactivity and galanin messenger RNA were seen in cells in the inflamed dermis and epidermis, especially in stratum granulosum. Most of the galanin-immunoreactive cells contained ED1-like immunoreactivity, a marker for macrophages. A strong galanin binding was seen in the inflamed dermis. Such binding sites may be targets for galanin released from local cells in inflamed dermis. Taken together, our results suggest that both neuronal and non-neuronal galanin or a galanin-like peptide is involved in the response to inflammation.