An in vitro preparation of frog semicircular canal was devised to study the mechanisms of Na transport across the labyrinthine epithelium. When the lumen of the semicircular canal was filled with perilymph-like solution, the structure was able to secrete K into and to absorb Na from the lumen and to generate a lumen-positive transepithelial potential. When the lumen of the semicircular canal was filled with endolymph-like solution, the electrochemical composition of the luminal fluid was partly maintained up to 2 h. In this last experimental condition net and unidirectional fluxes were calculated in absence or presence of transport inhibitors, separately for the ampulla and for the nonampullar part of the canal. Amiloride (10(-5) M) but not dimethyl amiloride (10(-5) M) inhibited 60% of the unidirectional Na efflux out of endolymph; this Na efflux decrease resulted in an increase of the inward net Na flux. The net Na flux was also increased after abluminal application of ouabain (10(-3) M), furosemide (10(-4) M), and bumetanide (10(-6) M). This study validates this isolated preparation as a suitable tool for the study of endolymph secretion, confirms that the secretion of endolymph is achieved in the ampulla, and provides evidence for an apical amiloride-sensitive Na channel through which Na is transferred out of endolymph along an electrochemical gradient provided by the activity of the abluminal Na+-K+-ATPase.