The cloned human delayed rectifying K+ channel Kv2.1 (drk1) was expressed in clonal mouse fibroblasts (L-cells) and rat basophilic leukemia cells (RBL-1) by direct cytoplasmic microinjection of complementary RNA (cRNA). Within six hours, cells microinjected with Kv2.1 cRNA expressed a large sustained outward current as determined from whole-cell patch-clamp recordings. Nearly 100% of cells injected with cRNA expressed outward current. Current density was 30-70 pA/pF when measured at a potential of +50 mV. Steady-state activation and inactivation parameters for Kv2.1 were similar when expressed in either L-cells or RBL-1 cells. These results are the first to demonstrate that functional ion channel proteins can be expressed in mammalian clonal cell lines by direct cytoplasmic microinjection of cRNA.