Repellent chemicals are presumed to activate trigeminal neurons, including polymodal nociceptors, but few data are available that bear on this notion. In the present experiment, we assessed multi-unit and single-unit responses of neurons in the rat lingual trigeminal nerve to 13 candidate repellents and a thermal stimulus. All of the chemicals evoked trigeminal responses, and neural activity was predictable from available behavioral data. These results are consistent with the view that repellents are irritants. The results also suggest that electrophysiological methods may represent a useful method for screening candidate repellent compounds.