The superfamily of voltage-activated potassium channels may express structurally and functionally diverse voltage-activated potassium channels in the nervous system. The roles of some voltage-activated potassium channel types, e.g. rapidly inactivating (transiently active type) channels and muscarine sensitive muscarine sensitive channels, are beginning to be understood. They may significantly influence dendritic action-potential back-propagation, signal to noise ratios in presynaptic excitability or the responsiveness of a neuron to synaptic input. Inherited disorders related to changes in excitability (episodic ataxia, epilepsy, heart arrhythmia) or to defects in sensory perception (hearing loss) have been associated with mutations in a few voltage-activated potassium channel genes. Most likely, more voltage-activated potassium channel genes will be linked to related disorders in the near future.