The effects of peptidase inhibitors on the antinociceptive induced by intrathecally (i.t.) administered by dynorphin A and dynorphin B in the mouse formalin test were examined. When administered i.t. 5 min before the injection of 0.5% formalin solution into the dorsal surface of a hindpaw, dynorphin A (0.5-2 nmol) and dynorphin B (2-8 nmol) produced a dose-dependent and significant reduction of the paw-licking response. Dynorphin A (2 nmol) and dynorphin B (8 nmol)-induced antinociception disappeared completely within 90 min and 60 min, respectively. p-Hydroxymercuribenzoate, a cysteine proteinase inhibitor, and phosphoramidon, and endopeptidase 24.11 inhibitor simultaneously administered with dynorphin A or dynorphin B. Significantly prolonged antinociception induced by both dynorphins. However, captopril, and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, bestatin (a general aminopeptidase inhibitor) and a serine proteinase inhibitor phenylmethanesulfonyl fluoride, were active. Dynorphin converting enzyme(s) transform dynorphin-related peptides to [Leu5]enkephalin and [Leu5]enkephalin-Arg6. Neither [Leu5]enkephalin nor [Leu5]enkephalin-Arg6, even at high dose (10 nmol), produced any antinociceptive effect. However, [Leu5[enkephalin-Arg6, but not [Leu5]enkephalin, produced a significant antinociceptive effect when co-administered with phosphoramidon. Therefore, the prolongation of the antinociception induced by both dynorphins in the presence of phosphoramidon, may be due to inhibition of [Leu5]enkephalin-Arg6 degradation. The present results indicate that dynorphin-converting enzyme(s) may be important enzyme(s) responsible for terminating dynorphin-A- and dynorphin-B-induced antinociception at the spinal cord level in mice.