To clarify the mechanism of hyperalgesia in diabetic neuropathy, we investigated the effects of streptozocin-induced hyperglycemia on tetrodotoxin-resistant Na+ channel activity of dorsal root ganglion neurons. Experiments were performed on enzymatically isolated neurons of dorsal root ganglia dissected from streptozocin-induced diabetic and their age-matched control rats. Membrane currents were recorded using the whole-cell patch-clamp technique. Mean current density of tetrodotoxin-resistant Na+ channels was significantly larger in neurons prepared from diabetic rats than in control neurons. Tetrodotoxin-resistant Na+ channels were activated at more negative potentials in diabetic than in control neurons. Curves representing the steady-state inactivation and the peak Na+ conductance as a function of membrane potential shifted to the negative side. The changes in gating property of the Na+ channel were observed six weeks after the injection of streptozocin, and still after eight months, indicating that tetrodotoxin-resistant Na+ channel abnormality starts to develop early and persists during the whole period of diabetes. These results suggest that neurons participating in nociception are highly excitable in diabetic animals. The present results may provide an important clue to the elucidation of hyperalgesia in diabetes.