Renal salt loss in Bartter's syndrome is caused by impaired transepithelial transport in the loop of Henle. Sodium chloride is taken up apically by the combined activity of NKCC2 (Na+-K--2Cl- cotransporters) and ROMK potassium channels. Chloride ions exit from the cell through basolateral ClC-Kb chloride channels. Mutations in the three corresponding genes have been identified that correspond to Bartter's syndrome types 1-3. The gene encoding the integral membrane protein barttin is mutated in a form of Bartter's syndrome that is associated with congenital deafness and renal failure. Here we show that barttin acts as an essential beta-subunit for ClC-Ka and ClC-Kb chloride channels, with which it colocalizes in basolateral membranes of renal tubules and of potassium-secreting epithelia of the inner ear. Disease-causing mutations in either ClC-Kb or barttin compromise currents through heteromeric channels. Currents can be stimulated further by mutating a proline-tyrosine (PY) motif on barttin. This work describes the first known beta-subunit for CLC chloride channels and reveals that heteromers formed by ClC-K and barttin are crucial for renal salt reabsorption and potassium recycling in the inner ear.