Adult rat spinal and brainstem motoneurons re-express low-affinity nerve growth factor receptor (p75) after their axotomy. We have previously reported and quantified the time course of this reexpression in spinal motoneurons following several types of injuries of the sciatic nerve. Other studies reported the reexpression of p75 in axotomized brainstem motoneurons. Results of these previous studies differed regarding the type of the most effective triggering injury for p75 reexpression, the relative duration of this reexpression and the decrease of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) immunoreactivity (-IR) following a permanent axotomy of spinal or brainstem motoneurons. These differences suggest that these two populations of motoneurons respond to axotomy with a different modulation of p75 and ChAT expression. The aim of the present study was to determine whether differential modulation exists. We have analyzed and quantified the presence of p75- and ChAT-IR motoneurons in the hypoglossal nucleus following the same types of injury and the same time course we previously used for sciatic motoneurons. The results show that a nerve crush is the most effective triggering injury for p75 and that it induces similar temporal patterns of p75 and ChAT expression for sciatic and hypoglossal motoneurons. In contrast, a cut injury of the sciatic and hypoglossal nerves resulted in distinct temporal courses of both p75 and ChAT expression between these two populations of motoneurons. In fact, a permanent axotomy of the hypoglossal motoneurons induced i) a much longer maintenance phase for p75 than in sciatic motoneurons and ii) a progressive loss of ChAT-IR with a successive return to normal values in contrast to the modest decrease in the sciatic motoneurons. This evidence indicates that spinal and brainstem motoneurons respond to a permanent axotomy with a different modulation of p75 and ChAT expression. Altogether, the present data and the reported evidence of a differential post-axotomy cell death support the hypothesis that these two populations of motoneurons undergo different dynamic changes after axotomy.