Abstract Pro-inflammatory cytokine high mobility group box-1 (HMGB-1) is involved in inflammation in the central nervous system, but less is known about its biological effects in the peripheral nervous system. In the present study, the role of HMGB-1 in the primary afferent nerve was investigated in the context of the pathophysiology of peripheral nerve injury-induced pain hypersensitivity. Real-time PCR confirmed an increase in HMGB-1 mRNA expression in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and spinal nerve at 1 day after spinal nerve ligation (SNL). Induction of HMGB-1 mRNA was observed in both injured L5 and uninjured L4. Immunohistochemistry for HMGB-1 revealed that SNL-induced HMGB-1 expression in the primary afferent neurons and satellite glial cells (SGCs) in the DRG, and in Schwann cells in the spinal nerve. Up-regulation of HMGB-1 was associated with translocation of its signal from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. Injection of HMGB-1 into the sciatic nerve produces transient behavioural hyperalgesia. Neutralizing antibody against HMGB-1 successfully alleviated the mechanical allodynia observed after SNL treatment. Receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE), one of the major receptors for HMGB-1, was expressed in the primary afferent neurons and SGCs in the DRG, as well as in Schwann cells in the spinal nerve. These results indicate that HMGB-1 is synthesized and secreted into the DRG and spinal nerve, and contributes to the development of neuropathic pain after nerve injury. Blocking HMGB-1/RAGE signalling might thus be a promising therapeutic strategy for the management of neuropathic pain.