An importance function of the external spallation neutrons in an accelerator-driven system (ADS) has been introduced and characterized to address the source multiplication in a subcritical blanket. For a model ADS problem with a central external source, the source importance function is evaluated with a neutron transport code system. For a homogeneous core, essential characteristics of the importance are identified from the viewpoint of spatial distributions and energy dependency, etc. The importance function is evaluated for two different beam tube diameters, and its dependency on the buffer thickness is also addressed. In order to assess the impact of the power distribution on the importance function, a heterogeneous core is considered, and its importance function is evaluated. The analyses show that the peak importance occurs in the inner fuel blanket zone, not in the central source region, and the neutron importance in a high-energy regime, above 7 to 20 MeV, is high and increases with the energy. Also, the effects of a neutron absorber on the source importance are studied, and it is found that the source importance could be drastically reduced by surrounding the source with a strong neutron absorber such as B4C. In addition, the source importance function is compared with the conventional -mode adjoint flux, which is used as an importance function of fission neutrons in critical reactors. The comparison reveals that the inhomogeneous source importance function could be quite similar to the homogeneous -mode adjoint flux in both spatial and spectral distributions for a wide range of subcriticality.