Astroglial excitability is largely mediated by fluctuations in intracellular ion concentrations. In addition to generally acknowledged Ca2+ excitability of astroglia, recent studies have demonstrated that neuronal activity triggers transient increases in the cytosolic Na+ concentration ([Na+]i) in perisynaptic astrocytes. These [Na+]i transients are controlled by multiple Na+-permeable channels and Na+-dependent transporters; spatiotemporally organized [Na+]i dynamics in turn regulate diverse astroglial homeostatic responses such as metabolic/signaling utilization of lactate and glutamate, transmembrane transport of neurotransmitters and K+ buffering. In particular, near-membrane [Na+]i transients determine the rate and the direction of the transmembrane transport of GABA and Ca2+. We discuss here the role of Na+ in the regulation of various systems that mediate fast bidirectional communication between neurones and glia at the single synapse level. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.