Patch-clamp techniques and Ca2+ imaging were used to examine the interaction between neurokinins (NK) and the capsaicin (CAPS)-evoked transient receptor potential vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPV1) responses in rat dorsal root ganglia neurons. Substance P (SP; 0.2–0.5 μM) prevented the reduction of Ca2+ transients (tachyphylaxis) evoked by repeated brief applications of CAPS (0.5 μM). Currents elicited by CAPS were increased in amplitude and desensitized more slowly after administration of SP or a selective NK2 agonist, [Ala8]-neurokinin A (4–10) (NKA). Neither an NK1-selective agonist, [Sar9, Met11]-SP, nor an NK3-selective agonist, [MePhe7]-NKB, altered the CAPS currents. The effects of SP on CAPS currents were inhibited by a selective NK2 antagonist, MEN 10,376, but were unaffected by the NK3 antagonist, SB 235,375. Phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate (PDBu), an activator of protein kinase C (PKC), also increased the amplitude and slowed the desensitization of CAPS responses. Phosphatase inhibitors, decamethrin and α-naphthyl acid phosphate (NAcPh), also enhanced the currents and slowed desensitization of CAPS currents. Facilitatory effects of SP, NKA and PDBu were reversed by bisindolylmaleimide, a PKC inhibitor, and gradually decreased in magnitude when the agents were administered at increasing intervals after CAPS application. The decrease was partially prevented by prior application of NAcPh. These data suggest that activation of NK2 receptors in afferent neurons leads to PKC-induced phosphorylation of TRPV1, resulting in sensitization of CAPS-evoked currents and slower desensitization. Thus, activation of NK2 autoreceptors by NKs released from the peripheral afferent terminals or by mast cells during inflammatory responses may be a mechanism that sensitizes TRPV1 channels and enhances afferent excitability.