Abstract Pain and cachexia are two of the most debilitating aspects of rheumatoid arthritis. Despite that, the mechanisms by which they are mediated are not well understood. We provide evidence that nerve growth factor (NGF), a secreted regulatory protein that controls neuronal survival during development, is a key mediator of pain and weight loss in auto-immune arthritis. Function blocking antibodies to NGF completely reverse established pain in rats with fully developed arthritis despite continuing joint destruction and inflammation. Likewise, these antibodies reverse weight loss while not having any effect on levels of the pro-cachectic agent tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Taken together, these findings argue that pathological joint pain and joint destruction are mechanistically independent processes and that NGF regulates an alternative cachexia pathway that is independent or downstream of TNF.