The acid-sensing ion channel (ASIC) subunits ASIC1, ASIC2, and ASIC3 are members of the amiloride-sensitive Na+ channel/degenerin family of ion channels. They form proton-gated channels that are expressed in the central nervous system and in sensory neurons, where they are thought to play an important role in pain accompanying tissue acidosis. A splice variant of ASIC2, ASIC2b, is not active on its own but modifies the properties of ASIC3. In particular, whereas most members of the amiloride-sensitive Na+ channel/degenerin family are highly selective for Na+ over K+, ASIC3/ASIC2b heteromultimers show a nonselective component. Chimeras of the two splice variants allowed identification of a 9-amino acid region preceding the first transmembrane (TM) domain (pre-TM1) of ASIC2 that is involved in ion permeation and is critical for Na+ selectivity. Three amino acids in this region (Ile-19, Phe-20, and Thr-25) appear to be particularly important, because channels mutated at these residues discriminate poorly between Na+ and K+. In addition, the pH dependences of the activity of the F20S and T25K mutants are changed as compared with that of wild-type ASIC2. A corresponding ASIC3 mutant (T26K) also has modified Na+ selectivity. Our results suggest that the pre-TM1 region of ASICs participates in the ion pore.