Immuno-electron microscopic localization of sodium channels at nodes of Ranvier within adult optic nerve was demonstrated with polyclonal antibody 7493. The 7493 antisera, which is directed against purified sodium channels from rat brain, recognizes a 260 kDa protein in immunoblots of the crude glycoprotein fraction from adult rat optic nerve. Intense immunoreactivity with 7493 antisera was observed at nodes of Ranvier. Axon membrane at the node was densely stained, whereas paranodal and internodal axon membrane did not exhibit immunoreactivity. The axoplasm beneath the nodal membrane displayed variable immunostaining. Neither terminal paranodal oligodendroglial loops nor oligodendrocyte plasmalemma were immunoreactive with 7493 antisera. However, perinodal astrocyte processes exhibited intense immunoreactivity with the anti-sodium channel antisera. Optic nerves incubated with pre-immune sera, or with 7493 antisera that had been pre-adsorbed with purified sodium channel protein, displayed no immunoreactivity. These results demonstrate localization of sodium channels at high density at mammalian nodes of Ranvier and in some perinodal astrocyte processes. The latter observation offers support for an active role for perinodal astrocyte processes in the aggregation of sodium channels within the axon membrane at the node of Ranvier.