A number of rat neuropathy models have been developed to simulate human neuropathic pain conditions, such as spontaneous pain, hyperalgesia, and allodynia. In the present study, to determine the relative importance of injury site (proximal or distal to the primary afferent neurons) and injury type (motor or sensory), we examined pain-related behaviors and changes of brain-derived neurotrophic factor expression in the dorsal root ganglion in sham-operated rats, and in the L5 dorsal rhizotomy, L5 ventral rhizotomy, L5 dorsal rhizotomy+ventral rhizotomy, and L5 spinal nerve transection models. L5 ventral rhizotomy and spinal nerve transection produced not only mechanical and heat hypersensitivity, but also an increase in brain-derived neurotrophic factor mRNA/protein in the L5 dorsal root ganglion at 7 days after surgery. In contrast, rats in the L5 dorsal rhizotomy and dorsal rhizotomy+ventral rhizotomy groups did not show both pain behaviors at 7 days after surgery, despite brain-derived neurotrophic factor upregulation in medium- and large-size neurons in the L5 dorsal root ganglion. On the other hand, L5 spinal nerve transection, but not dorsal rhizotomy, dorsal rhizotomy+ventral rhizotomy or ventral rhizotomy, increased the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the L4 dorsal root ganglion at 7 days after surgery. Taken together, these findings suggest that the upregulation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor expression in the L4 and L5 dorsal root ganglion neurons may be, at least in part, involved in the pathophysiological mechanisms of neuropathic pain and that the selective nerve root injury models may be useful for studying the underlying mechanisms of chronic pain after nerve injury.