Quantitative neurophysiological studies have identified the presence of at least two spinal neuron populations (ABRUPT and SUSTAINED) which are excited by the noxious visceral stimulus colorectal distension (CRD). The present study examined the effects of acute colorectal inflammation on the activity of dorsal horn neurons in decerebrate, cervical spinal cord- transected male rats. Extracellular recordings were made using tungsten microelectrodes and inflammation was produced by intracolonic instillation of turpentine (25% solution). The total activity of SUSTAINED neurons during CRD increased starting one hour after turpentine instillation whereas the total activity of ABRUPT neurons during CRD, as a group, was unaffected during the two hours of study. Increases in total activity during CRD correlated with increases in spontaneous activity. These observations further support that visceral nociception travels by a dual pathway and suggest a predominant role for SUSTAINED neurons in the signaling of visceral pain-related events. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.