The present study examined expression and plasticity of the neuropeptide, galanin, in carotid body afferent neurons in the petrosal ganglion of the adult rat. The pattern of galanin expression was compared with that of tyrosine hydroxylase, a selective marker of dopaminergic carotid body afferents in the petrosal ganglion. In normal animals, only 3% of tyrosine hydroxylase-containing petrosal ganglion neurons co-expressed galanin. Retrograde labeling studies, in which FluoroGold was injected into the vascularly isolated carotid body, demonstrated that all tyrosine hydroxylase-positive-galanin-positive cells in the petrosal ganglion project to this target. In addition, however, we unexpectedly found that galanin expression was markedly increased in the petrosal ganglion following FluoroGold injection into the carotid body. On the other hand, tyrosine hydroxylase expression was unchanged, indicating that monoaminergic and peptidergic traits can be differentially regulated in these cells. In summary, these data demonstrate that monoaminergic chemoafferent neurons can co-express a peptidergic trait, similar to catecholaminergic neurons within the central and autonomic nervous systems, and that these cells retain the potential for phenotypic plasticity in adulthood.