We investigated whether propofol affected nociceptive behavior and fos-like immunoreactivity (FLI) in the lumbo-sacral spinal cord after intraplantar formalin injection in wild-type (WT) mice and in mutant mice harboring a point mutation of the gamma-aminobutyric acid type(A) receptor, which renders them resistant to propofol. Bolus injection of propofol (30 mg/kg IV) in WT mice reduced phase 1 formalin-evoked behavior over the initial 2-3 min but did not alter phase 2 behavior or spinal FLI (64 +/- 19 cells/section) compared with WT mice receiving intralipid vehicle plus intraplantar formalin (57 +/- 19 cells/section). Most FLI was restricted to superficial dorsal horn laminae ipsilateral to the formalin injection. WT mice receiving a 60-min propofol infusion were anesthetized throughout and did not display nociceptive behavior but had FLI (58 +/- 11 cells/section) that did not differ significantly from the other WT groups. Mutant mice receiving bolus injection of propofol (30 mg/kg) and intraplantar formalin were not anesthetized and exhibited nociceptive behavior. The total FLI in the spinal cord was 47 +/- 29 cells/section. These data indicate that although propofol produces anesthesia, it does not prevent the FLI that is associated with nociception, a finding consistent with propofol lacking analgesic properties.