Neurotrophins are profound regulators of neuronal survival in the developing peripheral nervous system and are synthesized by peripheral neurons themselves both during development and in maturity. Neuronal neurotrophin expression may be importantly related to survival of mature neurons, both in normal and pathological states. We show here that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene expression in dorsal root ganglia is strongly stimulated in vivo by another neurotrophin, nerve growth factor (NGF). Furthermore, colocalization studies show that many BDNF-expressing sensory neurons also express trk A, the high-affinity NGF receptor. These results demonstrate a novel regulatory mechanism for neurotrophin gene expression and suggest a paracrine function for neurotrophins in mature animals.