The periaqueductal gray (PAG) and rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM) are important brain stem pain modulating regions. Recent evidence suggests that kappa opioids antagonize the effects of mu opioids in the RVM. However, the anatomical relationship between mu and kappa opioid receptors in PAG and RVM is not well characterized. This study examined relationships between mu and kappa opioid receptor immunoreactivity (IR) and mRNA in PAG and RVM. Brain slices were processed for either immunocytochemistry or in situ hybridization. We found considerable anatomical overlap of mu and kappa opioid IR and mRNA in the RVM and PAG. These results provide an anatomical basis for recent behavioral and electrophysiological findings in RVM, and suggest modulatory interactions between mu and kappa opioids in PAG.