Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) is present in both motor and sensory neurons and transported in the somatofugal direction. CGRP levels in sensory neurons are assumed to be regulated by NGF supplied from their peripheral targets. In cultured sensory neurons, however, a basal level of CGRP persists even without NGF. This suggests that some additional factors may be involved in regulation of CGRP levels of sensory neurons. The present study shows that chronic section of the sciatic nerve in the rat reduces CGRP levels in the lumbar dorsal root ganglia (DRG), whereas section of dorsal roots increases CGRP levels in the DRG. This increased CGRP level by dorsal rhizotomy was associated with enhancement of the CGRP mRNA expression in the DRG. Thus, CGRP expression in DRG appears to be regulated reciprocally via their central and peripheral processes. When the sciatic nerve had been cut 1 week previously, however, dorsal rhizotomy no longer increased CGRP levels in the lumbar DRG. Therefore, stimulation of CGRP synthesis in the DRG by dorsal rhizotomy may require the integrity of the peripheral processes. When NGF had been infused into the central stump of the cut sciatic nerve, dorsal rhizotomy again increased CGRP levels in the DRG, despite prior section of the peripheral processes. We conclude that CGRP expression in sensory neurons may be regulated by cooperative action of some factors derived via their central processes and NGF supplied from the peripheral targets.