Peripheral tissue injury-induced central sensitization may result from the altered biochemical properties of spinal dorsal horn. However, peripheral nerve injury-induced modification of genes in the dorsal horn remains largely unknown. Here we identified strong changes of 14 channels, 25 receptors and 42 signal transduction related molecules in Sprague-Dawley rat dorsal spinal cord 14 days after peripheral axotomy by cDNA microarray. Twenty-nine genes were further confirmed by semiquantitative RT-PCR, Northern blotting, in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. These regulated genes included Ca2+ channel alpha1E and alpha2/delta1 subunits, alpha subunits for Na+ channel 1 and 6, Na+ channel beta subunit, AMAP receptor GIuR3 and 4, GABA(A) receptor alpha5 subunit, nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha5 and beta2 subunits, PKC alpha, betal and delta isozymes, JNK1-3, ERK2-3, p38 MAPK and BatK and Lyn tyrosine-protein kinases, indicating that several signal transduction pathways were activated in dorsal spinal cord by peripheral nerve injury. These results demonstrate that peripheral nerve injury causes phenotypic changes in spinal dorsal horn. Increases in Ca2+ channel alpha2/delta1 subunit, GABA(A) receptor alpha5 subunit, Na+ channels and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in both dorsal spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia indicate their potential roles in neuropathic pain control.