Acid sensing ion channel 3 (ASIC3) is a cation channel gated by extracellular protons. It is highly expressed in sensory neurons, including small nociceptive neurons and has been proposed to participate in pain perception associated with tissue acidosis and in mechanoperception. Neuropeptide FF (NPFF) and FMRFamide have been shown to potentiate proton-gated currents from cultured sensory neurons and acid sensing ion channel (ASIC) cDNA transfected cells. In this study, we report that another mammalian peptide neuropeptide SF (NPSF), derived from the same precursor, also considerably increases the amplitude of the sustained current of heterologously expressed ASIC3 (12-fold vs. 19- and nine-fold for FMRFamide and NPFF, respectively) with an EC(50) of approximately 50 microM. Similar effects were also observed on endogenous ASIC3-like sustained current recorded from DRG neurons although of smaller amplitudes (two-, three- and seven-fold increase for NPSF, NPFF and FMRFamide, respectively), and essentially related to a slowing down of the inactivation rate. Importantly, this modulation induced changes in neuronal excitability in response to an electrical stimulus applied during extracellular acidification. ASIC3-mediated sustained depolarisation, and its regulation by neuropeptides, could thus be important in regulating polymodal neuron excitability particularly under inflammatory conditions where the expression levels of both NPFF precursor and ASIC3 are increased.