Noxious stimulation of the leg increases hind limb blood flow (HBF) to the ipsilateral side and decreases to the contralateral in rat. Whether or not this asymmetrical response is due to direct control by sympathetic terminals or mediated by other factors such as local metabolism and hormones remains unclear. The aim of this study was to compare responses in lumbar sympathetic nerve activity, evoked by stimulation of the ipsilateral and contralateral sciatic nerve (SN). We also sought to determine the supraspinal mechanisms involved in the observed responses. In anesthetized and paralyzed rats, intermittent electrical stimulation (1 mA, 0.5 Hz) of the contralateral SN evoked a biphasic sympathoexcitation. Following ipsilateral SN stimulation, the response is preceded by an inhibitory potential with a latency of 50 ms (N = 26). Both excitatory and inhibitory potentials are abolished following cervical C1 spinal transection (N = 6) or bilateral microinjections of muscimol (N = 6) in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM). This evidence is suggestive that both sympathetic potentials are supraspinally mediated in this nucleus. Blockade of RVLM glutamate receptors by microinjection of kynurenic acid (N = 4) selectively abolished the excitatory potential elicited by ipsilateral SN stimulation. This study supports the physiological model that activation of hind limb nociceptors evokes a generalized sympathoexcitation, with the exception of the ipsilateral side where there is a withdrawal of sympathetic tone resulting in an increase in HBF.