BACKGROUND: The growing applications of nanotechnologic products, such as quantum dots (QDs), increase the likelihood of exposure. Furthermore, their accumulation in the bioenvironment and retention in cells and tissues are arousing increasing worries about the potentially harmful side effects of these nanotechnologic products. Previous studies concerning QD cytotoxicity focused on the reactive oxygen species produced by QDs. Cellular calcium homeostasis dysregulation caused by QDs may be also responsible for QD cytotoxicity. Meanwhile the interference of QDs with voltage-gated sodium channel (VGSC) current (I(Na)) may lead to changes in electrical activity and worsen neurotoxicologic damage. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to investigate the potential for neurotoxicity of cadmium selenium QDs in a hippocampal neuronal culture model, focusing on cytoplasmic calcium levels and VGSCs function. METHODS: We used confocal laser scanning and standard whole-cell patch clamp techniques. RESULTS: We found that a) QDs induced neuron death dose dependently; b) cytoplasmic calcium levels were elevated for an extended period by QD treatment, which was due to both extracellular calcium influx and internal calcium release from endoplasmic reticulum; and c) QD treatment enhanced activation and inactivation of I(Na), prolonged the time course of activation, slowed I(Na) recovery, and reduced the fraction of available VGSCs. CONCLUSION: Results in this study provide new insights into QD toxicology and reveal potential risks of their future applications in biology and medicine.