1. This study was performed to elucidate the role of prostaglandins in the action of bradykinin on serosal afferent neurones supplying the rat jejunum. Extracellular recordings of multi-unit activity were made from serosal afferents in isolation, using a novel in vitro preparation. The discharge of single afferents within the multi-unit recording was monitored using waveform discrimination software. 2. All afferents tested were both mechano- and capsaicin sensitive. Application of bradykinin elicited increases in whole nerve discharge in a concentration-dependent manner. The agonist potency estimate (EC50) was 0.62 +/- 0.12 microM and is consistent with an interaction at the B2 receptor subtype. 3. The stimulatory effect of bradykinin on serosal afferents was antagonized by a specific antagonist of the B2 receptor, HOE140. In contrast, a selective B1 receptor antagonist, [des-Arg10]HOE140, had no effect. The IC50 estimate obtained for HOE140 was 1.6 nM and again consistent with an interaction at B2 receptors. 4. The response to a submaximal concentration of bradykinin (1 microM) was significantly reduced to 24.4 +/- 54.9 % of control following blockade of cyclo-oxygenase activity with naproxen (10 microM). The addition of 1 microM prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), in the presence of naproxen, had no direct effect on afferent activity, but fully restored the response to bradykinin in 15 single afferents. 5. In summary, bradykinin stimulates serosal afferents by a direct action on kinin B2 receptors that are present on serosal afferent terminals. The response to bradykinin is dependent on the presence of prostaglandins, particularly PGE2. We suggest that bradykinin has a self-sensitizing action, whereby it stimulates the release of PGE2, which in turn sensitizes the endings of serosal afferent neurones responsive to bradykinin.