The N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptors function as plasma membrane ionic channels and take part in very tightly controlled cellular processes activating neurogenic and inflammatory pathways. In particular, the NR1 subunit (new terminology: GluN1) is required for many neuronal and non-neuronal cell functions, including plasticity, survival, and differentiation. Physiologic levels of glutamate agonists and NMDA receptor activation are required for normal neuronal functions such as neuronal development, learning, and memory. When glutamate receptor agonists are present in excess, binding to NMDA receptors produces neuronal/CNS/PNS long-term potentiation, conditions of acute pain, ongoing severe intractable pain, and potential excitotoxicity and pathology. The GluNR1 subunit (116 kD) is necessary as the anchor component directing ion channel heterodimer formation, cellular trafficking, and the nuclear localization that directs functionally specific heterodimer formation, cellular trafficking, and nuclear functions. Emerging studies report the relevance of GluN1 subunit composition and specifically that nuclear GluN1 has major physiologic potential in tissue and/or subnuclear functioning assignments. The shift of the GluN1 subunit from a surface cell membrane to nuclear localization assigns the GluN1 promoter immediate early gene behavior with access to nuclear and potentially nucleolar functions. The present narrative review addresses the nuclear translocation of GluN1, focusing particularly on examples of the role of GluN1 in nociceptive processes.