The spinal cord is the first site of temporal and spatial integration of nociceptive signals in the pain pathway. Neuroplastic changes occurring at this site contribute critically to various chronic pain syndromes. Gene targeting in mice has generated important insights into these processes. However, the analysis of constitutive (global) gene-deficient mice is often hampered by confounding effects arising from supraspinal sites. Here, we describe a novel Cre mouse line which expresses the Cre recombinase under the transcriptional control of the Hoxb8 gene. Within the neural axis of these mice, Hoxb8-Cre expression is found in spinal cord neurons and glial cells, and in virtually all neurons of the dorsal root ganglia, but spares the brain apart from a few cells in the spinal trigeminal nucleus. The Hoxb8-Cre mouse line should be a valuable new tool for the in vivo analysis of peripheral and spinal gene functions in pain pathways. (c) 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.