Medial parvocellular paraventricular corticotropin-releasing hormone (mPVN CRH) cells are critical in generating hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis responses to systemic interleukin-1β (IL-1β). However, although it is understood that catecholamine inputs are important in initiating mPVN CRH cell responses to IL-1β, the contributions of distinct brainstem catecholamine cell groups are not known. We examined the role of nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) and ventrolateral medulla (VLM) catecholamine cells in the activation of mPVN CRH, hypothalamic oxytocin (OT) and central amygdala cells in response to IL-1β (1 µg/kg, i.a.). Immunolabelling for the expression of c- fos was used as a marker of neuronal activation in combination with appropriate cytoplasmic phenotypic markers. First we confirmed that PVN 6-hydroxydopamine lesions, which selectively depleted catecholaminergic terminals, significantly reduced IL-1β-induced mPVN CRH cell activation. The contribution of VLM (A1/C1 cells) versus NTS (A2 cells) catecholamine cells to mPVN CRH cell responses was then examined by placing ibotenic acid lesions in either the VLM or NTS. The precise positioning of these lesions was guided by prior retrograde tracing studies in which we mapped the location of IL-1β-activated VLM and NTS cells that project to the mPVN. Both VLM and NTS lesions reduced the mPVN CRH and OT cell responses to IL-1β. Unlike VLM lesions, NTS lesions also suppressed the recruitment of central amygdala neurons. These studies provide novel evidence that both the NTS and VLM catecholamine cells have important, but differential, contributions to the generation of IL-1β-induced HPA axis responses.