A Na(+) current is present in human jejunal circular smooth muscle cells. The aim of the present study was to determine the role of the cytoskeleton in the regulation of the Na(+) current. Whole cell currents were recorded by using standard patch-clamp techniques with Cs(+) in the pipette to block K(+) currents. Cytochalasin D and gelsolin were used to disrupt the actin cytoskeleton and phalloidin to stabilize it. Colchicine was used to disassemble the microtubule cytoskeleton (and intermediate filaments) and paclitaxel to stabilize it. Acrylamide was used to disrupt the intermediate filament cytoskeleton. Perfusion of the recording chamber at 10 ml/min increased peak Na(+) current recorded from jejunal smooth muscle cells by 27 +/- 3%. Cytochalasin D and gelsolin abolished the perfusion-induced increase in Na(+) current, whereas incubation with phalloidin, colchicine, paclitaxel, or acrylamide had no effect. In conclusion, the Na(+) current expressed in human jejunal circular smooth muscle cells appears to be regulated by the cytoskeleton. An intact actin cytoskeleton is required for perfusion-induced activation of the Na(+) current.