Muscle pain imposes significant changes on natural motor tasks, but the consequences for stretch reflexes are still disputed. The present study examined the jaw reflexes to fast (10 ms) stretches of the mandible in an experimental model with local pain in the masseter muscle and remote pain in the tibialis anterior muscle. The stretch reflexes were elicited in healthy volunteers (n=13) before, during, and after periods with constant levels of experimental pain and while the subjects clenched at 0%, 15%, 30%, and 45% of the maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) levels. Surface electromyography (EMG) was used to record the reflex responses. Pain in the masseter muscle (mean +/- SEM, 3.8+/-0.4 on a 10-cm visual analogue scale), but not in the tibialis anterior muscle (3.4+/-0.3; paired t-test, P=0.318) was associated with significant changes in both prestimulus EMG activity (ANOVA, P=0.002) and in peak-to-peak amplitudes of the stretch reflex (ANOVA, P=0.022). However, when the changes in prestimulus EMG activity were taken into consideration a significant increase in the stretch reflex persisted in the painful muscle at 15% and 30% MVC. Local circuits at the trigeminal level involving the fusimotor system are proposed to mediate a significant part of this modulatory effect.