We tested whether the recovered ability of rats to discriminate NaCl from KCl after chorda tympani nerve transection (CTX) is causally linked to nerve regeneration or some other compensatory process. Rats were presurgically trained in an operant NaCl vs. KCl discrimination task. Rats with regenerated nerves, histologically confirmed by anterior tongue taste pore counts and tested 62 days after CTX (CTX-62R; n = 5), performed as well as those tested 62 days after sham surgery (Sham-62; n = 5), but both of these groups initially performed slightly worse than animals tested 7 days after sham surgery (Sham-7; n = 4). Performance of rats tested either 7 (CTX-7P; n = 5) or 62 (CTX-62P; n = 4) days after CTX in which nerve regeneration was prevented was severely disrupted. Adulteration of the stimuli with amiloride, an epithelial sodium channel blocker, impaired discrimination performance in a similar dose-dependent manner in the Sham-7 (n = 2), Sham-62 (n = 5), and CTX-62R (n = 5) groups, suggesting that the functional status of the amiloride-sensitive transduction pathway returns to normal in rats with regenerated chorda tympani nerves. Performance of CTX rats without regenerated nerves (CTX-7P, n = 2; CTX-62P, n = 4) was further degraded by amiloride treatment, suggesting that taste receptors innervated by other nerves are sensitive to amiloride. In conclusion, nerve regeneration is an essential component underlying full recovery of salt discrimination function after CTX.