The present study was conducted to determine if substance P-, thyrotropin-releasing hormone and/or serotonin-immunoreactivities coexist in ventral medullary neurons that project to the intermediolateral cell column in the rat. Neurons that projected to the intermediolateral cell column were identified by the presence of retrogradely transported rhodamine bead-labeled microspheres in the cell body after an injection of the microspheres into the intermediolateral cell column of the third thoracic spinal cord segment. Co-existence was determined by using a combination of dual color immunohistochemistry and serial 4-μm sections that were immunostained with different antibodies. Antibodies to substance P, serotonin, and pre-pro-thyrotropin releasing hormone160-169 were used to identify substance P, serotonin and thyrotropin-releasing hormone, respectively. Neurons that contained substance P-, thyrotropin-releasing hormone- and/or serotonin-immunoreactivities and that projected to the intermediolateral cell column were present in the nucleus raphe magnus, the nucleus raphe pallidus, the nucleus reticularis magnocellularis pars alpha, the paragigantocellular reticular nucleus and the parapyramidal region. Neurons that projected to the intermediolateral cell column, in each of these regions, were found to contain each of the following combinations of immunoreactive neurochemicals: substance P and thyrotropin-releasing hormone; substance P and serotonin; thyrotropin-releasing hormone and serotonin; or substance P, thyrotropin-releasing hormone and serotonin. In addition, most of the regions also contained neurons that appeared to contain only one of the neurochemicals and that also projected to the intermediolateral cell column. The greatest number of neurons that projected to the intermediolateral cell column and that also contained two or more co-existing neurochemicals was present in the midline regions. This study demonstrates the presence of neurons in the ventral medulla that project to the intermediolateral cell column and contain three co-existing neurochemicals. This study also demonstrates the use of a new method for the localization of three neurochemicals in single projection-specific neurons.