There has been confusion about the subunit stoichiometry of the degenerin family of ion channels. Recently, a crystal structure of acid-sensing ion channel (ASIC) 1a revealed that it assembles as a trimer. Here, we used atomic force microscopy (AFM) to image unprocessed ASIC1a bound to mica. We detected a mixture of subunit monomers, dimers and trimers. In some cases, triple-subunit clusters were clearly visible, confirming the trimeric structure of the channel, and indicating that the trimer sometimes disaggregated after adhesion to the mica surface. This AFM-based technique will now enable us to determine the subunit arrangement within heteromeric ASICs.