TASK2 is a member of the two-pore domain K(+) channel family that plays a role in acid-base homeostasis; TASK2 knockout animals have plasma electrolyte patterns typical of the human clinical condition of renal tubular acidosis. It is expressed preferentially in epithelia, including the proximal tubules of the kidney. In common with the other TASK channels, TASK2 is sensitive to changes in extracellular pH, although the molecular mechanism of such pH sensing is not understood. We have examined the role of charged residues in the extracellular domains in pH sensing using a mutational approach. Mutant channels were expressed in CHO cells and studied by whole-cell and single-channel patch clamp. Neutralization of no single amino acid in isolation gave complete loss of pH sensitivity. However, the combined removal of five charged amino acids in the large extracellular loop linking the first transmembrane and pore domains, the M1-P1 loop, resulted in an essentially pH-insensitive channel, stabilized in the open state. Wild-type channels contain two such loops, but a concatemeric construct, comprised of one wild-type subunit and one containing the five mutations, was fully pH-sensitive, indicating that only one M1-P1 loop is required to yield a fully pH-sensitive channel, demonstrating a regulatory role of this distinctive structure in two-pore domain K(+) channels. Thus, pH sensing in TASK2 channels is conferred by the combined action of several charged residues in the large extracellular M1-P1 loop.