The modulation of herg gene and HERG currents (I(HERG)) was studied in SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma (NB) cells treated with all-trans-retinoic acid (RA) in the absence or presence of the neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Both treatments produced a strong increase in the percentage of cells differentiated along the neuronal pathway, with an orientation to a cholinergic phenotype, while a minority of cells displayed a glial phenotype particularly evident after long-term exposure to the inducers. Differentiation of NB cells was accompanied by an increase in herg gene transcription, which attained its maximum after 6 days of treatment with RA and was not further increased by BDNF. This effect evidently reflected on HERG currents: In fact, RA produced an increase in HERG current density which was strongly potentiated by BDNF. Moreover, RA treatment affected the biophysical properties of I(HERG), inducing an increase in the deactivation time constant and a left shift of the activation curve. These effects were not substantially affected by BDNF. This modulation of I(HERG) influenced the value of the resting potential (V(REST)), which resulted significantly hyperpolarized in (RA with or without BDNF)-treated cells. Interestingly, these effects were absent in the glial population, which prevailed in cultures after long-term exposure to the inducers. On the whole, we demonstrate that besides expressing IRK currents, NB cells display another strategy to hyperpolarize their V(REST), based on the appropriate modulation of HERG currents. Different from what happens in normal neuroblast development, the latter are never lost by cancer cells despite the progression of these cells along the neuronal differentiative pathway, raising intriguing questions about the role of HERG currents in tumour behavior.