In halothane-anesthetized rats, neurons stereotaxically located in the region of the medullary lateral reticular nucleus (LRN) and responsive to urinary bladder distension (UBD) were characterized using extracellular electrodes. Most neurons excited by UBD were also excited by noxious stimuli applied to bilateral receptive fields comprising at least half of the body surface. These bilateral nociceptive specific (bNS) neurons exhibited graded responses to graded intensities of UBD. Neuronal responses to noxious UBD were highly positively correlated with responses to noxious colorectal distension, suggesting a convergence of visceral sensory information in the area of LRN. Bilateral lateral mid-cervical spinal cord lesions virtually abolished activity of bNS neurons evoked by noxious UBD, while dorsal midline lesions had no significant effect. These data support a role for neurons in the region of the LRN in visceral nociception and implicate traditional lateral spinal cord pain pathways in the transmission of visceral information to caudal ventrolateral medullary structures. © 2005 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.