A reporter epitope was inserted at 11 positions in a region encompassing proposed transmembrane segments S1 and S2 in the second repeat domain (D2) of the rat skeletal muscle type 1 sodium channel. All mutations produced full-length membrane-associated protein following transfection into cultured cells, although the level of expression varied with insertion position. Characterization of cognate cRNAs for each mutation in Xenopus oocytes by two-electrode voltage clamp defined a permissive region between the proposed transmembrane regions in which these large insertions did not interfere with channel function. Two of the mutations, in which the point of insertion was within the proposed S1-S2 loop, demonstrated extracellular membrane labeling when studied either by antibody binding in oocytes or by confocal analysis following transfection into primary muscle cells. Our results define the likely boundaries of an extramembrane region linking the S1 and S2 transmembrane segments in D2 and confirm the extracellular location of this S1-S2 loop predicted by current models of channel tertiary structure.