The amiloride-sensitive epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) is a heteromultimer of three homologous subunits (alpha-, beta-, and gamma- subunits). To study the role of the beta-subunit in vivo, we analyzed mice in which the betaENaC gene locus was disrupted. These mice showed low levels of betaENaC mRNA expression in kidney (approximately 1%), lung (approximately 1%), and colon (approximately 4%). In homozygous mutant betaENaC mice, no betaENaC protein could be detected with immunofluorescent staining. At birth, there was a small delay in lung- liquid clearance that paralleled diminished amiloride-sensitive Na+ absorption in tracheal explants. With normal salt intake, these mice showed a normal growth rate. However, in vivo, adult betaENaC m/m mice exhibited a significantly reduced ENaC activity in colon and elevated plasma aldosterone levels, suggesting hypovolemia and pseudohypoaldosteronism type 1. This phenotype was clinically silent, as betaENaC m/m mice showed no weight loss, normal plasma Na+ and K+ concentrations, normal blood pressure, and a compensated metabolic acidosis. On low-salt diets, betaENaC-mutant mice developed clinical symptoms of an acute pseudohypoaldosteronism type 1 (weight loss, hyperkalemia, and decreased blood pressure), indicating that betaENaC is required for Na+ conservation during salt deprivation.