Due to its predominantly nociceptive innervation, viral tracing from the tooth pulp provides a potential means for tracing central pain pathways. The neural pathways from the tooth pulp to cortex were determined using in situ hybridization to detect the anterograde transneuronal spread of herpes simplex virus type 1 strain H129 following inoculation into the murine mandibular incisor pulp. Virus first appeared in the brain at day 3 in the dorsomedial region of all three subnuclei of the spinal trigeminal nucleus and the principal sensory nucleus. By days 5–6 virus had spread to the contralateral medial nucleus of the medial geniculate complex, posterior thalamus, and ventroposteromedial thalamus. At days 7–8 virus was detected in laminae IV and Va of the primary somatosensory cortex and lamina IV of the secondary somatosensory cortex in regions previously shown to receive input from the lower jaw. Several mice also showed infection of laminae II/III of the ipsilateral dysgranular insular cortex, along with labeling for virus in the ipsilateral external lateral parabrachial nucleus, posterior thalamus, and posterior basolateral amygdala. Our results are highly consistent with previous tracing and electrophysiological studies utilizing the tooth pulp and with studies implicating the infected structures in nociception. Viral spread appeared to define two separate afferent systems with infection of structures which have been implicated in the sensory-discriminative aspects of pain, such as the ventroposteromedial thalamus and somatosensory cortex, as well as in the dysgranular insular cortex and related subcortical nuclei which may have a role in the affective- motivational aspects of pain.