Different types of K+ channels play important roles in many aspects of excitability. The isolation of cDNA clones from Drosophila, Aplysia, Xenopus, and mammals points to a large multigene family with several distinct members encoding K+ channels with unique electrophysiological and pharmacological properties. Given the pivotal role K+ channels play in the fine tuning of electrical properties of excitable tissues, we studied the spatial and temporal basis of K+ channel diversity. We report the isolation of two putative K+ channels that define two new subfamilies based upon amino acid sequence similarities with other known K+ channels. Northern blot and in situ hybridization studies revealed differences in the spatial and temporal expression patterns for these two new clones along with mRNAs from other K+ channel subfamilies. Two of the K+ channels studied are predominantly expressed in the brain. One of the "brain-specific" K+ channels is first expressed after about 2 weeks of postnatal cerebellar development and remains at levels about 10-fold higher in the cerebellum than in the rest of the brain.