Neuropathic pain may be produced, at least in part, by the increased activity of primary afferent neurons. Studies have suggested that an accumulation of voltage-gated sodium channels at the site of peripheral nerve injury is a primary precursory event for subsequent afferent hyperexcitability. In this study, a human sodium channel (hPN3, SCN10A) has been cloned from the lumbar 4/5 dorsal root ganglia (DRG). Expression of hPN3 in Xenopus oocytes showed that this clone is a functional voltage-gated sodium channel. The amino acid sequence of hPN3 is most closely related to the rat PN3/SNS sodium channels which are expressed primarily in the small neurons of rat DRGs. The homologous relationship between rPN3 and hPN3 is defined by (i) a high level of sequence identity (ii) sodium currents that are highly resistant to tetrodotoxin (TTX) (iii) similar tissue distribution profiles and (iv) orthologous chromosomal map positions. Since rPN3/SNS has been implicated in nociceptive transmission, hPN3 may prove to be a valuable target for therapeutic agents against neuropathic pain.