1. The interaction between N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and NK1 tachykinin receptors was analyzed isobolographically in rats with inflammatory hyperalgesia induced by intraplantar injection of complete Freund's adjuvant-saline emulsion (CFA, 100 micrograms Mycobacterium tuberculosis). 2. Thermal hyperalgesia of the inflamed paw, determined by paw withdrawal response to a heat stimulus, was dose-dependently attenuated by intrathecal administration of an NMDA receptor antagonist, dextrorphan (2.5-40 micrograms, ED50 = 7.2 micrograms), and two NK1 tachykinin receptor antagonists, WIN 51,708 (0.01-200 micrograms, ED50 = 10.4 micrograms) or CP-96,345 (5-200 micrograms, ED50 = 82.1 micrograms). There was no effect of these agents on the nociceptive threshold of the non-inflamed paw. CP-96,344, an enantiomer of CP-96,345 that is inactive as an NK1 tachykinin receptor antagonist, slightly attenuated hyperalgesia at a dose of 200 micrograms. 3. Combinations of dextrorphan and WIN 51,708 were administered at fixed ratios (10%:90%; 41%:59%; 90%:10%). Isobolographic analysis revealed that the ED50s obtained from the three combination ratios were not significantly different from those that were expected from a simple additive effect. 4. Thus, an additive interaction was demonstrated between NMDA and NK1 tachykinin receptor systems at the spinal level. These results suggest that both NMDA and NK1 tachykinin receptors are activated in response to peripheral inflammation, but that they may contribute independently to development of hyperalgesia.