In most living cells, K(+) channels are important for the generation of the membrane potential and for volume regulation. The parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which causes malignant malaria, must be able to deal with large variations in the ambient K(+) concentration: it is exposed to high concentrations of K(+) when inside the erythrocyte and low concentrations when in plasma. In the recently published genome of P. falciparum, we have identified a gene, pfkch1, encoding a potential K(+) channel, which to some extent resembles the big-conductance (BK) K(+) channel. We have cloned the approximately 6000 nucleotide (nt) fragment from cDNA, studied the pattern of expression of pfkch1 throughout the intraerythrocytic part of the parasite's life-cyclus, and characterized the channel on the basis of similarity to other K(+) channels from pro- and eukaryotic organisms. This P. falciparum K(+) channel could be a potential drug target.