We have recently reported that most of NG2 glycoprotein expressing glial cells, or NG2 glia, in rat hippocampus persistently express sodium channel currents (I(Na)) during development, but little is known about its function. We report here that hippocampal NG2 glia recorded in either acute slices or freshly isolated preparations from postnatal days (P) 7-21 rats express low density I(Na) (9.5-15.7 pA/pF) that is characterized by a fast activation and rapid inactivation kinetics with a tetrodotoxin (TTX) IC(50) value of 39.3 nM. The I(Na) expression correlated with a approximately 25 mV more depolarized resting membrane potential (RMP) as compared with non-I(Na)-expressing GLAST(+) astrocytes in situ at the same age. In the presence of the sodium channel blocker TTX (0.1 microM), these depolarized RMPs were negatively shifted by an average of 19 mV and 16 mV for I(Na)-expressing glia recordings from in situ and freshly isolated preparations, respectively. The I(Na) expressing glia actually showed a positive RMP (+12 mV) in the absence of potassium conductance that was inhibited to 0 mV by 0.1 microM TTX. Analysis of the I(Na) activation/inactivation curves yields an I(Na) "window current" at -40+/-20 mV, implying a persistent I(Na) component being active around the NG2 glia RMP of approximately -45 mV. According to the constant-field equation analysis, this active I(Na) component leads to a pNa/pK ratio of 0.14 at RMP which is approximately threefold higher than astrocytes (0.05). These results indicate that a TTX sensitive I(Na) component in NG2 glia contributes significantly to the depolarized NG2 glia RMP in the developing brain.