The effect of ketamine as a treatment of visceral pain is not known. The current study investigated the effect of ketamine on spinal dorsal horn neurons excited by urinary bladder distension (UBD). The effect of other clinically available N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonists on these responses was also studied. Methods: Extracellular recordings of neurons located in the L6-S2 spinal dorsal horn of cervical spinal cord-transected, decerebrate female rats were obtained. Cutaneous receptive fields of neuronal units excited by UBD were characterized for responses to segmental noxious and nonnoxious stimuli. Nonsegmental noxious stimuli were also applied, and neurons were classified as type I (inhibited) and type II (noninhibited) by the stimulus. The effect of intravenous ketamine (1, 3, and 10 mg/kg), dextromethorphan (5 mg/kg), and memantine (16 mg/kg) on neuronal responses of these units was measured. Results: Spontaneous and evoked neuronal activity to UBD was reduced in a dose-dependent fashion by ketamine. Responses to nonnoxious cutaneous stimuli were also significantly reduced after treatment. Dextromethorphan inhibited neuronal activity evoked by UBD in type I neurons. A similar selective effect of treatment on type I versus type II neurons was observed after intravenous ketamine and memantine. Conclusions: Intravenous ketamine produces dose-dependent inhibition of the spinal cord neuronal responses evoked by UBD. All three N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonists showed selective effects on spinal cord neurons subject to counterirritation. This neurophysiologic evidence supports a spinally mediated analgesic effect of ketamine in this model of urinary bladder nociception, an effect likely caused by N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonism.