Previous data show that spinal cord long‐term potentiation (LTP) can be induced by electrical high‐frequency stimulation (HFS) conditioning applied to the sciatic nerve. It has been suggested that the cellular events leading to this form of plasticity may contribute to central hyperalgesia. In the present study, extracellular recordings from single dorsal horn neurons and quantitative real‐time reverse‐transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT‐PCR) on rat dorsal horn tissue were used to examine whether maintenance of spinal LTP is associated with changes in gene expression of the proinflammatory interleukin‐1β (IL‐1β), glial cell‐line derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), p38 mitogen‐activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK), cyclooxygenase 2 (COX2) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα). The data demonstrated that the HFS conditioning induced a robust increase in the dorsal horn C‐fibre responses, which outlasted the duration of the experiments of 6 h (p < 0.05, HFS vs. control). Moreover, a significant increase in the expression of mRNA for IL‐1β, GDNF and iNOS were observed 6 h following the HFS conditioning (p < 0.05, HFS vs. control). For the first time we show that spinal cord LTP is associated with an increased dorsal horn expression of the genes for IL‐1β, GDNF and iNOS.