The peripheral nervous system (PNS) has classically been separated into a somatic division composed of both afferent and efferent pathways and an autonomic division containing only efferents. J. N. Langley, who codified this asymmetrical plan at the beginning of the twentieth century, considered different afferents, including visceral ones, as candidates for inclusion in his concept of the “autonomic nervous system” (ANS), but he finally excluded all candidates for lack of any distinguishing histological markers. Langley's classification has been enormously influential in shaping modern ideas about both the structure and the function of the PNS. We survey recent information about the PNS and argue that many of the sensory neurons designated as “visceral” and “somatic” are in fact part of a histologically distinct group of afferents concerned primarily autonomic function. These afferents have traditionally been known as “small dark” neurons or B-neurons. In this target article we outline an association between autonomic and B-neurons based on ontogeny, cell phenotype, and functional relations, grouping them together as part of a common reflex system involved in homeostasis. This more parsimonious classification of the PNS, made possible by the identification of a group of afferents associated primarily with the ANS, avoids a number of confusions produced by the classical orientation. It may also have practical implications for an understanding of nociception, homeostatic reflexes, and the evolution of the nervous system.