We have previously reported that galanin message-associated peptide (GMAP), a fragment of galanin precursor protein, occurs in a limited number of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cells in rats with intact sciatic nerves. In the present study, the localization of GMAP in dorsal root ganglia, dorsal roots and dorsal horn was analyzed immunohistochemically and compared between rats with intact and sectioned sciatic nerves. Furthermore, the effects of intrathecal (i.t.) GMAP on the flexor reflex in rats with intact and sectioned nerves were examined. In rats with intact sciatic nerves, i.t. GMAP elicited a moderate facilitation of the flexor reflex. The facilitation of the flexor reflex induced by conditioning stimulation (CS) of cutaneous C-fibers was strongly blocked by GMAP. GMAP also selectively antagonized the reflex facilitatory effect of i.t. substance P (SP), but not i.t. vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP). Unilateral sciatic nerve section induced an upregulation of GMAP in the ipsilateral dorsal root ganglia 2 weeks after axotomy. The effect of GMAP on the baseline reflex was similar in normal and axotomized rats, but the blocking effect of GMAP on C-fiber CS-induced facilitation was significantly reduced after axotomy. GMAP did not antagonize the reflex facilitatory effect of SP after axotomy, whereas an antagonism on VIP-induced facilitation was observed. The possible role of GMAP in spinal transmission and comparison with the effects of galanin are discussed.