Capsaicin was applied unilaterally to the nostril mucosa of 18 episodic cluster headache sufferers in remission. Plasma and saliva levels of substance P (SP), calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) were measured by radioimmunoassay. Increase of salivary SP-LI and CGRP-LI as well as of plasma CGRP-LI occurred after capsaicin stimulation. Capsaicin-induced neurochemical changes in saliva and in plasma were compared to the changes observed during cluster headache attacks measured in a separate study. The comparative changes in SP, CGRP and VIP characterizing these two conditions suggest that trigeminal capsaicin-sensitive sensory neurones are unlikely to play any fundamental role in the mechanics of cluster headache.