There is probably no other gastrointestinal disorder which is as much characterized by concomitant local, intra-organ and central neuropathic and neuroplastic alterations as chronic pancreatitis (CP). While some key features of this neuropathy have recently been elucidated, there is still no satisfying pathophysiological explanation for the generation of neuropathic pain in CP. It is becoming increasingly clear that an effective pain treatment in CP can probably not be achieved without consideration of the exact fate of intrapancreatic nerves and central neuroplastic alterations. This review is intended to illustrate the temporal and spatial alterations of intrapancreatic nerves in the course of CP. At the same time, it depicts the reciprocal relationship between these plastic changes and thus underlines the notion of a 'common fate' for all these alterations. Moreover, it points out numerous aspects of this fate that are yet to be unveiled and should therefore be subject to future investigation. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.