Interneurons innervating dentate granule cells are potent regulators of the entorhino-hippocampal interplay. Traumatic brain injury, a leading cause of death and disability among young adults, is frequently associated with rapid neuropathological changes, seizures, and short-term memory deficits both in humans and experimental animals, indicating significant posttraumatic perturbations of hippocampal circuits. To determine the pathophysiological alterations that affect the posttraumatic functions of dentate neuronal networks within the important early (hours to days) posttraumatic period, whole cell patch-clamp recordings were performed from granule cells and interneurons situated in the granule cell layer of the dentate gyrus of head-injured and age-matched, sham-operated control rats. The data show that a single pressure wave-transient delivered to the neocortex of rats (mimicking moderate concussive head trauma) resulted in a characteristic ( approximately 10 mV), transient (<4 days), selective depolarizing shift in the resting membrane potential of dentate interneurons, but not in neighboring granule cells. The depolarization was not associated with significant changes in action potential characteristics or input resistance, and persisted in the presence of antagonists of ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate, and GABA(A) and muscarinic receptors, as well as blockers of voltage-dependent sodium channels and of the h-current. The differential action of the cardiac glycosides oubain and stophanthidin on interneurons from control versus head-injured rats indicated that the depolarization of interneurons was related to the trauma-induced decrease in the activity of the electrogenic Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase. In contrast, the Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase activity in granule cells did not change. Intracellular injection of Na(+), Ca(2+)-chelator and ATP, as well as ATP alone, abolished the difference between the resting membrane potentials of control and injured interneurons. The selective posttraumatic depolarization increased spontaneous firing in interneurons, enhanced the frequency and amplitude of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) in granule cells, and augmented the efficacy of depolarizing inputs to discharge interneurons. These results demonstrate that mechanical neurotrauma delivered to a remote site has highly selective effects on different cell types even within the same cell layer, and that the electrogenic Na(+)-pump plays a role in setting the excitability of hippocampal interneuronal networks after injury.