Aldosterone is thought to be the main hormone to stimulate the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) in the aldosterone-sensitive distal nephron (ASDN) comprising the late distal convoluted tubule (DCT2), the connecting tubule (CNT) and the entire collecting duct (CD). There is immunohistochemical evidence for an axial gradient of ENaC expression along the ASDN with highest expression in the DCT2 and CNT. However, most of our knowledge about renal ENaC function stems from studies in the cortical collecting duct (CCD). Here we investigated ENaC function in the transition zone of DCT2/CNT or CNT/CCD microdissected from mice maintained on different sodium diets to vary plasma aldosterone levels. Single-channel recordings demonstrated amiloride-sensitive Na(+) channels in DCT2/CNT with biophysical properties typical for ENaC previously described in CNT/CCD. In animals maintained on a standard salt diet, the average ENaC-mediated whole cell current (ΔI(ami)) was higher in DCT2/CNT than in CNT/CCD. A low salt diet increased ΔI(ami) in CNT/CCD but had little effect on ΔI(ami) in DCT2/CNT. To investigate whether aldosterone is necessary for ENaC activity in the DCT2/CNT, we used aldosterone synthase knockout (AS(-/-)) mice that lack aldosterone. In CNT/CCD of AS(-/-) mice, ΔI(ami) was lower than that in wild-type (WT) animals and was not stimulated by a low salt diet. In contrast, in DCT2/CNT of AS(-/-) mice, ΔI(ami) was similar to that in DCT2/CNT of WT animals both on a standard and on a low salt diet. We conclude that ENaC function in the DCT2/CNT is largely independent of aldosterone which is in contrast to its known aldosterone sensitivity in CNT/CCD.