We used patch-clamp methods to examine the effects of depletion and readdition of aldosterone on single, highly selective, amiloride-blockable sodium channels in the A6 cell line. Single-channel characteristics changed little before 24 h of continuous aldosterone depletion, although there was some reduction in short-circuit current. Thereafter, apical sodium permeability, measured as product of channel number per patch and individual channel open probability (NPo), was reduced between five- and sevenfold, primarily due to a large decrease in channel mean open time. With about the same time course, short-circuit current also decreased approximately fivefold. Readdition of aldosterone to depleted cells produced an increase in NPo within 2 h, primarily through an increase in mean open time. After readdition, channel number per patch increased twofold compared with cells not hormone deprived, with a return to control levels between 24 and 48 h after continuous exposure. The increase in short-circuit current followed a similar time course. The primary effect of aldosterone appears to be modulation of the open time of channels continuously present in the apical membrane, rather than promotion of the appearance or disappearance of channels from the membrane. In particular, it cannot be demonstrated statistically that aldosterone removal reduces the number of channels per patch, and there may actually be up to a twofold increase after a long period of aldosterone depletion.