Interferon-gamma receptor (IFN-gamma R) immunoreactivity was observed in the superficial dorsal horn and lateral spinal nucleus in rat and mouse spinal cord. Dorsal rhizotomies did not reduce immunoreactivity in the rat. IFN-gamma R distribution overlapped with nitric oxide synthase-1 immunoreactivity. In wild-type mice, intrathecal injections of mouse IFN-gamma evoked biting behaviour, whereas mice with disruption of the functional gene for IFN-gamma R did not respond. Both types of mice had similar withdrawal thresholds to mechanical stimulation and reacted similarly to foot-pad carrageenan injections. In contrast to wild-type mice, IFN-gamma R knock-out mice did not show autotomy after sciatic nerve section. This study demonstrates a functional IFN-gamma R in spinal nociceptive pathways related to neuropathic pain.