Microprobes bearing immobilised antibodies to dynorphin A(1-8) were used to study the basal and evoked release of this prodynorphin derived peptide in the spinal cord of urethane anaesthetised normal rats and those with a peripheral inflammation. In the absence of any active peripheral stimulus the antibody microprobes detected immunoreactive (ir)-dynorphin A(1-8) in two areas (lamina I and laminae IV-V) in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord of normal rats. With the development of unilateral ankle inflammation over 3 to 5 days following subcutaneous injections of Freund's complete adjuvant, a basal presence of ir-dynorphin A(1-8) was found in both the dorsal and ventral horn regions of both sides of the spinal cord. Lateral compression of the ankles of the normal animals did not release ir-dynorphin A(1-8) during the period of stimulation, but this neuropeptide was detected in increased amounts in the ventral horn following the stimulus. By contrast, compression of inflamed ankles produced elevated levels of ir-dynorphin A(1-8) during the period of stimulus application at three major sites in the ipsilateral spinal grey matter. The largest peak was in the deep dorsal horn/upper ventral horn (laminae VI-VII), with further sites of significant release in the mid dorsal horn (laminae II-V) and the lower ventral horn. The observation that ir-dynorphin A(1-8) is physiologically released in the ventral and deep dorsal in addition to the superficial dorsal horn of the rat suggests an involvement of dynorphins in several aspects of spinal function.