K+ channels from the Kv1 subfamily contain four alpha-subunits and the combinations (from Kv1.1-1.6) determine susceptibility to dendrotoxin (DTX) homologues. The subunit composition of certain subtypes in rat brain was investigated using DTXk which only interacts with Kv1.1-containing channels and alphaDTX (and its closely related homologue DTXi) that binds preferentially to Kv1. 2-possessing homo- or hetero-oligomers. Covalent attachment of [125I]DTXk bound to channels in synaptic membranes unveiled subunits of Mr = 78 000 and 96 000. Immunoprecipitation of these solubilized and dissociated cross-linked proteins with IgG specific for each of the alpha-subunits identified Kv1.1, 1.2 and 1.4; this led to assemblies of Kv1.1/1.2 and 1.1/1.4 being established. Kv1. 2-enriched channels, purified from rat brain by chromatography on immobilized DTXi, contained Kv1.1, 1.2 and 1.6 confirming one of the above-noted pairs and indicating an additional Kv1.1-containing oligomer (Kv1.1/1.2/1.6); the notable lack of Kv1.4 excludes a Kv1. 1/1.2/1.4 combination. On the other hand, channels with Kv1.1 as a constituent, isolated using DTXk, possessed Kv1.4 in addition to those found in the DTXi-purified oligomers; this provides convergent support for the occurrence of the three combinations established above but adds a possible fourth (Kv1.1/1.4/1.6), though this was not confirmed. Moreover, sequential purification on DTXi and DTXk resins yielded channels containing only Kv1.1/1.2 but with an apparent predominance of Kv1.1, reaffirming the latter multimer.