OBJECTIVE: The acidic saline animal model of pain has been suggested to mimic fibromyalgia (FM). In this model, repeated intramuscular (IM) injections of acidic saline produce a widespread hyperalgesia that persists without evidence of significant peripheral tissue damage or inflammation, and is believed to be centrally maintained. We examined the changes of pain-related neurotransmitters in specific brain regions of this model after deep-sea water (DSW) drinking. METHODS: Rats were injected with 100microliter of acidic saline (pH 4.0) at days 0 and 5 into the left gastrocnemius muscle. Control rats received identical injections of physiological saline (pH 7.2) on the same schedule. Two acidic saline rats were given DSW from 1 week following the last IM injection to sacrifice. All rats were sacrificed on day 20. All regions of interest were examined for the changes of pain-related neurotransmitters with immunohistochemistry. RESULTS: Preliminary results showed that compared to controls, acid injected rats demonstrated strong expression of serotonin in red and raphe nucleus. Acid injected rats showed significant reductions of the serotonin expression in red and raphe nucleus after DSW drinking. CONCLUSION: IM acid injections increased the expression of serotonin in red and raphe nucleus of rats. The overwhelming reduction of serotonin expression in the nuclei after DSW drinking suggests DSW might be helpful for pain and anxiety. These preliminary data support the validity of acidic saline treatment as a model of FM, and provide a foundation for future analyses of specific brain regions that contribute to this syndrome.