As part of a recent program on the evolution of somatosensory systems in vertebrates, the cytoarchitecture, chemoarchitecture, and fiber connections of the caudal rhombencephalic alar plate were studied in the ribbed newt, Pleurodeles waltl. This part of the brain stem includes ill-defined dorsal column and lateral cervical nuclei. A cytoarchitectonic analysis revealed that the caudal medullary alar plate consists of an inner and an outer cell layer. The dorsomedial part of the outer cell layer at the obex level contains the dorsal column nucleus (DCN), whereas its ventrolateral part constitutes the lateral cervical nucleus (LCN). NADPH-diaphorase histochemistry and calbindin D-28k immunohistochemistry clearly delineate the main components of the compact inner cell layer, i.e. the nucleus of the solitary tract dorsally and the nucleus of the descending trigeminal tract ventrally. Neither NADPH-diaphorase-labeled nor calbindin D-28k positive neurons were observed in the DCN and LCN. With anterograde and retrograde tracing, the DCN and LCN were further delineated. Labeling of ascending dorsal root projections showed that the dorsal column and the DCN are somatotopically arranged: lumbar primary afferent fibers terminate on medial DCN neurons, whereas cervical primary afferent fibers terminate on lateral DCN neurons. The LCN is densely innervated by the dorsolateral funiculus. Retrograde tracing showed extensive, predominantly contralateral projections of both the DCN and LCN to the torus semicircularis and the ventral thalamus. These data show that even in the poorly segregated caudal rhombencephalic alar plate of urodeles a DCN and LCN can be distinguished with afferent and efferent projections comparable to those in anurans and other terrestrial vertebrates.