BACKGROUND: Bone cancer pain has a disruptive effect on the cancer patient's quality of life. Although ginsenosides have been used as traditional medicine in Eastern Medicine, the effect on bone cancer pain has not been thoroughly studied. The aim of this study was to determine whether ginsenosides may alter the bone cancer pain at the spinal level. METHODS: NCTC 2472 tumor cells (2.5 x 10(5)) were injected into the femur of adult male C3H/HeJ mice to evoke bone tumor and bone cancer pain. To develop bone tumor, radiologic pictures were obtained. To assess pain, the withdrawal threshold was measured by applying a von Frey filament to the tumor cells inoculation site. The effect of intrathecal ginsenosides was investigated. Effect of ginsenosides (150, 500, 1,000 microgram) was examined at 15, 30, 60, 90, 120 min after intrathecal delivery. RESULTS: The intrafemoral injection of NCTC 2472 tumor cells induced a radiological bone tumor. The withdrawal threshold with tumor development was significantly decreased compared to the sham animals. Intrathecal ginsenosides effectively increased the withdrawal threshold in the bone cancer site. CONCLUSIONS: NCTC 2472 tumor cells injection into the mice femur caused bone tumor and bone cancer pain. Intrathecal ginsenosides attenuated the bone cancer-related pain behavior. Therefore, spinal ginsenosides may be an alternative analgesic for treating bone cancer pain.