Neuropathic pain can be difficult to treat clinically, as current therapies involve partial effectiveness and significant adverse effects. Following the development of preclinical models for neuropathic pain, significant advances have been made in understanding the neurobiology of neuropathic pain. This includes an appreciation of the molecular entities involved in initiation of pain, the role of particular afferents (small and large diameter, injured and uninjured), and the contribution of inflammation. Currently, topical formulations of capsaicin (cream) and lidocaine (patch) are available for treating neuropathic pain in humans. Preclinical studies provide evidence that peripheral applications of opioids, α- adrenergic agents, and antidepressants also may be beneficial in neuropathic pain, and some clinical reports provide support for topical applications of such agents. An appreciation of the ability of drug application, to sites remote from the site of injury, to alleviate aspects of neuropathic pain will provide a significant impetus for the further development of novel topical analgesics for this condition.