Ionic fluxes are important for critical aspects of keratinocyte differentiation, including synthesis of differentiation-specific proteins, enzymatic catalysis of protein cross-linking, post-transcriptional processing of profilaggrin, and lipid secretion. The epithelial sodium channel is expressed in epidermis and the expression of its alpha and beta subunits is enhanced as keratinocytes differentiate. In order to ascertain the role of the epithelial sodium channel in epidermal differentiation, we examined skin of mice in which the epithelial sodium channel alpha subunit had been deleted. Newborn -/- mice, in which the alpha subunit had been completely inactivated, demonstrated epithelial hyperplasia, abnormal nuclei, premature secretion of lipids, and abnormal keratohyaline granules. In addition, immunohistochemistry demonstrated that expression of the differentiation markers K1, K6, and involucrin were abnormal. These data suggest that the epithelial sodium channel modulates ionic signaling for specific aspects of epidermal differentiation, such as synthesis or processing of differentiation- specific proteins, and lipid secretion.