T lymphocytes encounter hypoxia when they migrate to pathological sites such as tumours and wounds. The inability of T cells to provide an efficient defence at these sites can in part be explained by the hypoxic environment. Kv 1.3 channels, important components of the T cell activation process are inhibited by hypoxia and their inhibition accounts for a hypoxia-induced decrease in T cell proliferation. Although Kv 1.3 channels play a key role in T cell O(2) sensing, the signalling mechanisms mediating their response to hypoxia are still not understood. In this study, we show that the src-protein tyrosine kinase p56Lck (Lck) is required for Kv 1.3 channel response to hypoxia. Pre-exposure to the src inhibitor PP2 abolished the hypoxia-induced inhibition of Kv 1.3 channels in primary human T lymphocytes. Moreover, Kv 1.3 channel sensitivity to hypoxia was lost in Lck-deficient Jurkat T cells. Further studies with recombinant Kv 1.3 channels showed that Kv 1.3 channels lack intrinsic O(2) sensitivity, but delivery of Lck into the cells and transfection of a constitutively active Lck (Y505FLck) restored their sensitivity to hypoxia. Although Lck is necessary for the Kv 1.3 channel response to hypoxia, it does not directly inhibit Kv 1.3 channels. Indeed, under normal oxygen tension, delivery of active Lck into L929 cells and overexpression of Y505FLck did not decrease recombinant Kv 1.3 currents. On the contrary, activation of endogenous src kinases increased wild-type Kv 1.3 currents in T lymphocytes. Our findings indicate that Lck is required for the acute response to hypoxia of human T lymphocytes as it is necessary to confer O(2) sensitivity on Kv 1.3 channels.