TWIK-related acid-sensitive K(+) (TASK) channels contribute to setting the resting potential of mammalian neurons and have recently been defined as molecular targets for extracellular protons and volatile anesthetics. We have isolated a novel member of this subfamily, hTASK-5, from a human genomic library and mapped it to chromosomal region 20q12-20q13. hTASK-5 did not functionally express in Xenopus oocytes, whereas chimeric TASK-5/TASK-3 constructs containing the region between M1 and M3 of TASK-3 produced K(+) selective currents. To better correlate TASK subunits with native K(+) currents in neurons the precise cellular distribution of all TASK family members was elucidated in rat brain. A comprehensive in situ hybridization analysis revealed that both TASK-1 and TASK-3 transcripts are most strongly expressed in many neurons likely to be cholinergic, serotonergic, or noradrenergic. In contrast, TASK-5 expression is found in olfactory bulb mitral cells and Purkinje cells, but predominantly associated with the central auditory pathway. Thus, TASK-5 K(+) channels, possibly in conjunction with auxiliary proteins, may play a role in the transmission of temporal information in the auditory system.