Self-etching dentin adhesive systems, a new generation of dental-bonding agents, were investigated for their ability to block nerve conductance in the rat sciatic nerve model. Clearfil SE Bond, Mac Bond and FL Bond were used as test materials. Isolated rat sciatic nerves obtained from female albino rats were placed between two electrodes in a bath containing Tyrode solution. The bonding agents were brought into contact with the nerves and the evoked compound action potentials were recorded versus time before and after contact with the materials. Statistical analysis was performed using the Friedman and Wilcoxon Signed-Ranks tests (P = 0.01) to compare the mean percentage of inhibition between test materials versus time. All test materials were able to block nerve transmission rapidly (3.3 +/- 0.5, 5.1 +/- 2.3 and 8.0 +/- 1.9 min for SE Bond, Mac Bond and FL Bond, respectively). Significant differences were found between FL Bond and SE and Mac Bond (P < 0.01). These results indicated that the bonded systems tested, intended primarily as dentinal tubule occluders, may also exert some direct desensitizing effect on intratubular or pulpal nerve terminals in extremely deep cavities or pulpal microexposures, contributing to decreased postoperative pain.