UNLABELLED To explore further the role of inflammatory processing on peripheral opioid pharmacology, we examined whether the potency of intraarticular (i.a.) or intrathecal (i.t) morphine in tests of thermal and mechanical nociception changed during the induction of experimental arthritis in the rat. Thermal nociception by i.t. morphine (3, 10, and 50 micrograms) or i.a. morphine (100, 1000, and 3000 micrograms) was assessed by means of a modified Hargreaves box ever) 28 h. Mechanical antinociception was determined for the largest applied doses of morphine using von Frey hairs. Morphine produced dose-dependent thermal antinociception after i.t. or i.a. administration: a 50% increase in maximum antinociceptive thermal response (50% effective dose) was produced by i.t. doses of 9.7 micrograms at the start and 9.1 micrograms at the end of this 28-h observational interval, whereas after i.a. administration, 50% effective dose values were 553 micrograms at the start and 660 micrograms at the end. The largest applied dose of either i.t. or i.a. morphine produced mechanical antinociception. On Day 1, the antinociceptive effect for mechanical nociception (expressed as the area under the curve of the percentage of maximal possible effect values at 0.5, 1, 2, and 4 h) was 68% for i.t. morphine 50 micrograms and 53% for i.a. morphine 3000 micrograms. Neither result differed from the corresponding area under the curve values on Day 2. Naloxone administered either i.t. or i.a. abolished the antinociceptive action of morphine given at the same site. We conclude that, although morphine has a peripheral analgesic site of action in a rat arthritis model, its potency for both i.a. and i.t. routes of administration does not change during the onset of arthritis. IMPLICATIONS In this animal study, we showed that the administration of morphine modulates thermal and mechanical antinociception at central and peripheral sites in inflammatory pain.