Na(+),K(+)-ATPase pumps three Na(+) ions out of cells in exchange for two K(+) taken up from the extracellular medium per ATP molecule hydrolysed, thereby establishing Na(+) and K(+) gradients across the membrane in all animal cells. These ion gradients are used in many fundamental processes, notably excitation of nerve cells. Here we describe 2.8 Å-resolution crystal structures of this ATPase from pig kidney with bound Na(+), ADP and aluminium fluoride, a stable phosphate analogue, with and without oligomycin that promotes Na(+) occlusion. These crystal structures represent a transition state preceding the phosphorylated intermediate (E1P) in which three Na(+) ions are occluded. Details of the Na(+)-binding sites show how this ATPase functions as a Na(+)-specific pump, rejecting K(+) and Ca(2+), even though its affinity for Na(+) is low (millimolar dissociation constant). A mechanism for sequential, cooperative Na(+) binding can now be formulated in atomic detail.