The action of synthetic kava pyrones, (+)-methysticin and (+/-)-kavain, on voltage-operated Na(+)-channels was studied in whole-cell patch-clamped CA1 hippocampal neurons. In doses of 1-400 microM, both compounds exerted a rapid and reversible inhibition of the peak amplitude of Na(+)-currents. Shifting holding membrane potential (Vhold) to more positive values enhanced their blocking effect. The drugs studied did not demonstrate use-dependent properties at 10 Hz stimulation but shifted H infinity curve toward more negative potentials, accelerated time-course of inactivation and slowed down the recovery from inactivation. Voltage-dependence of Na(+)-channel inhibition can be explained by interaction of (+)-methysticin and (+/-)-kavain with resting closed and inactivated states of Na(+)-channel.