Our previous studies (Boscan P, Kasparov S, and Paton JF. Eur J Neurosci 16: 907-920, 2002) showed that activation of somatic afferents attenuated the baroreceptor reflex via neurokinin type 1 (NK(1)) and GABA(A) receptors within the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS). The periaqueductal gray matter (PAG) can also depress baroreceptor reflex function and project to the NTS. In the present study, we have tested the possibility that the dorsolateral (dl)-PAG projects to the NTS neurons that also respond to somatic afferent input. In an in situ, arterially perfused, unanesthetized decerebrate rat preparation, somatic afferents (brachial plexus), cervical spinal cord, and dl-PAG were stimulated electrically, whereas NTS neurons were recorded extracellularly. From 45 NTS neurons excited by either brachial plexus or dl-PAG stimulation, 41 received convergence excitatory inputs from both afferents. Onset latency and evoked peak discharge frequency from brachial plexus afferents were 39.4 +/- 4.7 ms and 10.7 +/- 1.1 Hz, whereas this was 43.9 +/- 6.4 ms and 7.9 +/- 1 Hz, respectively, following dl-PAG stimulation. As revealed by using a paired pulse stimulation protocol, monosynaptic connections were found in 9 of 36 neurons tested from both spinal cord and dl-PAG. We tested NK(1)-receptor sensitivity in 38 neurons that received convergent inputs from brachial plexus/PAG. Fifteen neurons were sensitive to selective antagonism of NK(1) receptors. CP-99994, the NK(1) antagonist, failed to alter ongoing firing activity but reduced the evoked peak discharge frequency following stimulation of both brachial plexus (from 12.3 +/- 1.8 to 7.2 +/- 1.3 Hz; P < 0.01) and PAG (from 7.8 +/- 1.5 to 4.5 +/- 1 Hz; P < 0.01). We conclude that 1) somatic brachial and PAG afferents can converge onto single NTS neurons; 2) this convergence occurs via either direct or indirect pathways; and 3) NK(1) receptors are activated by some of these inputs.