BACKGROUND: Changes in nitric oxide (NO) production in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) may contribute to allodynia after nerve injury. It is known that the histochemistry of NADPH-diaphorase (NADPH-d) is known to be not always coincident with NOS. This study was conducted to investigate the relationship between nNOS and NADPH-d expression in the DRG in a spinal nerve injury model of neuropathic pain, and to elucidate role that NO plays in neuropathic pain. METHODS: nNOS immunohistochemistry and/or NADHP-d histochemistry were conducted in the DRG of a spinal nerve transection model of neuropathic pain, and the pain behavior was then measured by a von Frey filament test of the hindpaws of wild type and nNOS knock-out mice. RESULTS: nNOS immunoreactive neurons and NADPH-d stained neurons were not always identical. Additionally NADPH-d increased, but nNOS did not increase significantly in the DRG after spinal nerve transection. Neuropathic pain behavior increased in the hindpaw of nNOS(-/-) mice after spinal nerve transection, but was lower than that of wild type mice after spinal nerve transection. CONCLUSIONS: nNOS immunoreactive neurons and NADPH-d stained neurons were not always identical in the DRG, and a novel NADPH-d positive source may be involved in neuropathic pain after spinal nerve transection. Changes in nNOS expression in the DRG were not the primary cause of neuropathic pain behavior in a spinal nerve transection model of neuropathic pain.