Carotid body glomus cells sense hypoxia through the inhibition of plasmalemmal K(+) channels, which leads to Ca(2+) influx and transmitter release. Although the mechanism of O(2) sensing remains enigmatic, it does not seem to depend on cellular redox status or inhibition of mitochondrial electron transport. Hypoxia inducible factors appear to be necessary for the expression of the O(2) sensor and carotid body remodeling in chronic hypoxia, but are not directly involved in acute O(2) sensing. Glomus cells are also rapidly activated by reductions of glucose concentration due to inhibition of K(+) channels. These cells function as combined O(2) and glucose sensors that help to prevent neuronal damage by acute hypoxia and/or hypoglycemia.