Neurogenic inflammation in the dura mater caused by trigeminal nociceptive activation has been implicated in the pathophysiology of migraine. Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) is a powerful neuroprotective neuropeptide that can modulate mast cell behavior. Migraine is also associated with sympathetic insufficiency. This study investigates the effects of VIP on the number of mast cells in the dura mater and on c-Fos expression in the trigeminal nucleus of sympathectomized rats. Experiments were carried out with 32 Sprague-Dawley male rats with body weights of 200-250 g. In the sympathectomized group, the left superior cervical sympathetic ganglion was removed. In the sympathectomized+VIP group, postoperative VIP 25 ng/kg/day (0.2 ml) was administered for 5 days. In the sham group, the ganglion and nerves were exposed but not dissected. Dura maters were stained with toluidine blue, and brainstems were labeled by indirect immunohistochemistry for c-Fos. Sympathectomy significantly increased the number of mast cells in both the ipsilateral and the contralateral dura mater (P<0.001). VIP decreased the number of mast cells in both sides of the dura mater in sympathectomized rats. VIP also decreased c-Fos expression in the ipsilateral trigeminal nucleus of sympathectomized rats (P<0.001). In the context of an experimental superior cervical ganglionectomy model of migraine, VIP is an efficient modulator of neurogenic inflammation of the dura. (c) 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.