Post-transcriptional editing of pre-mRNAs through the action of dsRNA adenosine deaminases results in the modification of particular adenosine (A) residues to inosine (I), which can alter the coding potential of the modified transcripts. We describe here three sites in the para transcript, which encodes the major voltage-activated Na(+) channel polypeptide in Drosophila, where RNA editing occurs. The occurrence of RNA editing at the three sites was found to be developmentally regulated. Editing at two of these sites was also conserved across species between the D. melanogaster and D. virilis. In each case, a highly conserved region was found in the intron downstream of the editing site and this region was shown to be complementary to the region of the exonic editing site. Thus, editing at these sites would appear to involve a mechanism whereby the edited exon forms a base-paired secondary structure with the distant conserved noncoding sequences located in adjacent downstream introns, similar to the mechanism shown for A-to-I RNA editing of mammalian glutamate receptor subunits (GluRs). For the third site, neither RNA editing nor the predicted RNA secondary structures were evolutionarily conserved. Transcripts from transgenic Drosophila expressing a minimal editing site construct for this site were shown to faithfully undergo RNA editing. These results demonstrate that Na(+) channel diversity in Drosophila is increased by RNA editing via a mechanism analogous to that described for transcripts encoding mammalian GluRs.