Neuropathic pain from nerve injury by trauma, disease or surgery often causes prolonged suffering. To explore the molecular mechanisms that underlie neuropathic pain, we used mRNA from the L4--5 segments of the lumbar spinal cord of rats with chronic constriction injury (CCI)-induced neuropathic pain, and differentially screened a cDNA library from the rat brain. A novel gene, termed RSEP1 (Rat Spinal cord Expression Protein 1), was identified. Northern blots revealed that RSEP1 was expressed mainly in the central nervous system including the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, brainstem and spinal cord, as well as in the kidney and ovary. In situ hybridization showed a high level of RSEP1 expression in the CA1, CA3 and dentate gyrus regions of the hippocampus and the small sensory neurons in the dorsal horn, as well as the large neurons in the ventral horn of the spinal cord. Intrathecal injection of RSEP1 antisense oligonucleotide into the spinal cord lumbar enlargement attenuated neuropathic pain behaviours in CCI rats, suggesting a functional involvement of RSEP1 in neuropathic pain.