Cystic fibrosis (CF) transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) Cl(-) channel function is required for activating amiloride-sensitive epithelial Na(+) channels (ENaC) in salt-absorbing human sweat duct. It is unclear whether ENaC channel function is also required for CFTR activation. The dysfunctional ENaC mutations in type-1 pseudohypoaldosteronism (PHA-1) provided a good opportunity to study this phenomenon of ion channel interaction between CFTR and ENaC. The PHA-1 ducts completely lacked spontaneous ENaC conductance (gENaC). In contrast, the normal ducts showed large spontaneous gENaC (46 +/- 10 ms, mean +/- SE: ). After permeabilization of the basolateral membrane with alpha-toxin, cAMP + ATP activation of CFTR Cl(-) conductance (gCFTR) or alkalinization of cytosolic pH (6.8 to 8.5) stimulated gENaC of normal but not PHA-1 ducts. In contrast, both spontaneous gCFTR in intact ducts and (cAMP + ATP)-activated gCFTR of permeabilized ducts appeared to be similar in normal and PHA-1 subjects. Lack of gENaC completely blocked salt absorption and caused dramatic reversal of skin potentials associated with pilocarpine-induced sweat secretion from significantly negative in normal subjects (-13 +/- 7.0 mV) to significantly positive (+22 +/- 11.0 mV) in PHA-1 patients. We conclude that virtual lack of ENaC in PHA-1 ducts had little effect on CFTR activity and that the positive skin potentials could potentially serve as a diagnostic tool to identify type-1 pseudohypoaldosteronism.