Understanding bladder afferent pathways may reveal novel targets for therapy of lower urinary tract disorders such as overactive bladder syndrome and cystitis. Several potential candidate molecules have been postulated as playing a significant role in bladder function. One such candidate is the transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) ion channel. Mice lacking the TRPV1 channel have altered micturition thresholds suggesting that TRPV1 channels may play a role in the detection of bladder filling. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate the role of TRPV1 receptors in controlling bladder afferent sensitivity in the mouse using pharmacological receptor blockade and genetic deletion of the channel. Multiunit afferent activity was recorded in vitro from bladder afferents taken from wild-type (TRPV+/+) mice and knockout (TRPV1-/-) mice. In wild-type preparations, ramp distension of the bladder to a maximal pressure of 40 mmHg produced a graded increase in afferent activity. Bath application of the TRPV1 antagonist capsazepine (10 μm) caused a significant attenuation of afferent discharge in TRPV1+/+ mice. Afferent responses to distension were significantly attenuated in TRPV1-/-mice in which sensitivity to intravesical hydrochloric acid (50 mm) and capsaicin (10 μm) were also blunted. Altered mechanosensitivity occurred in the absence of any changes in the pressure-volume relationship during filling indicating that this was not secondary to a change in bladder compliance. Single-unit analysis was used to classify individual afferents into low-threshold and high-threshold fibres. Low threshold afferent responses were attenuated in TRPV1-/-mice compared to the TRPV1+/+ littermates while surprisingly high threshold afferent sensitivity was unchanged. While TRPV1 channels are not considered to be mechanically gated, the present study demonstrates a clear role for TRPV1 in the excitability of particularly low threshold bladder afferents. This suggests that TRPV1 may play an important role in normal bladder function.