Cystic fibrosis (CF) patients show characteristic defects in epithelial ion transport, such as failure in cAMP-dependent Cl- secretion. Because the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) also functions as a downregulator of epithelial Na+ channels (ENaC), enhanced Na+ conductance was found in the airways of CF patients. Here, we examined whether enhanced epithelial Na+ conductance is also present in the colonic epithelium of CF patients and examined the underlying mechanisms. Thus transepithelial voltages were measured, and equivalent short-circuit currents (I(sc-eq)) were determined by means of a novel type of Ussing chamber. Non-CF tissues demonstrated cAMP-dependent Cl- secretion that was absent in biopsies of CF patients. Correspondingly, Isc-eq was inhibited in non-CF but not in CF epithelia when synthesis of endogenous prostaglandins was blocked by indomethacin. In the presence of indomethacin, a larger portion of amiloride-sensitive Isc-eq was detected in CF tissues, suggesting enhanced ENaC conductance in colonic mucosa of CF patients. Increase of intracellular cAMP by forskolin and IBMX inhibited amiloride-sensitive ENaC currents in non-CF tissues but not in CF biopsies. Therefore, enhanced epithelial Na+ conductance is present in the CF colon and is probably due to missing downregulation by CFTR.