Vanilloid receptor subunit 1 (VR1) is a nonselective cation channel that integrates multiple pain-producing stimuli. VR1 channels are blocked with high efficacy by the well established noncompetitive antagonist ruthenium red and exhibit high permeability to divalent cations. The molecular determinants that define these functional properties remain elusive. We have addressed this question and evaluated by site-specific neutralization the contribution on pore properties of acidic residues located in the putative VR1 pore region. Mutant receptors expressed in Xenopus oocytes exhibited capsaicin-operated ionic currents akin to those of wild type channels. Incorporation of glutamine residues at Glu(648) and Glu(651) rendered minor effects on VR1 pore attributes, while Glu(636) slightly modulated pore blockade. In contrast, replacement of Asp(646) by asparagine decreased 10-fold ruthenium red blockade efficacy and reduced 4-fold the relative permeability of the divalent cation Mg(2+) with respect to Na(+) without changing the selectivity of monovalent cations. At variance with wild type channels and E636Q, E648Q, and E651Q mutant receptors, ruthenium red blockade of D646N mutants was weakly sensitive to extracellular pH acidification. Collectively, our results suggest that Asp(646) is a molecular determinant of VR1 pore properties and imply that this residue may form a ring of negative charges that structures a high affinity binding site for cationic molecules at the extracellular entryway.