The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of intravenous or intrathecal (i.t.) administration of R-phenylisopropyladenosine (R-PIA), a selective A1 adenosine receptor agonist, on spontaneous scratching behaviour, a phenomenon presumably related to pain in a mononeuropathy model (sciatic nerve ligation) in rats. The acute effect of daily i.t. R-PIA injections was studied up to 21 days following nerve ligation. The results demonstrate that both i.v. (30 nmol) and i.t. (3 nmol) R-PIA, in doses not producing any motor impairment, significantly reduces scratching behaviour in this animal model. The mechanism of action for this presumed antinociceptive effect is suggested to occur at the spinal cord level.