Photodynamic alteration of lobster giant axons drastically changed the magnitude and kinetics of sodium currents seen under voltage clamp using the sucrose gap technique. Illumination of axons following treatment with acridine orange or eosin Y decreased the maximum sodium conductance to a zero asymptote as an exponential function of illumination time. Normal sodium inactivation was slowed, with τh more than doubled depending on experimental conditions. A second slower inactivation rate developed occasionally. τh was altered little, if at all. Sodium current "tails" were not prolonged. At maximum light intensity and with eosin Y as sensitizer leakage current increased after 4–10 sec in light. These changes were irreversible. Decreases in maximum sodium conductance correlated highly with increases in time to peak sodium current. The magnitude of change varied linearly with light intensity. The action spectra for eosin Y and acridine orange peaked near 545 and 505 nm, respectively. The magnitude of change varied with preillumination dye exposure time in a quasi-exponential approach to a maximum effect. Sodium dithionite protected the axon from photodynamic change.

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