Spatial distribution of maxi-anion channels in rat cardiomyocytes were studied by applying the recently developed patch clamp technique under scanning ion conductance microscopy, called the "smart-patch" technique. In primary-cultured neonatal cells, the channel was found to be unevenly distributed over the cell surface with significantly lower channel activity in cellular extensions compared with the other parts. Local ATP release, detected using a PC12 cell-based biosensor technique, also exhibited a similar pattern. The maxi-anion channel activity could not be detected in freshly isolated adult cardiomyocytes by the conventional patch-clamp with 2-MOmega pipettes. However, when fine-tipped 15-20 MOmega pipettes were targeted to only Z-line areas, we observed, for the first time, the maxi-anion events. Smart-patching different regions of the cell surface, we found that the channel activity was maximal at the openings of T-tubules and along Z-lines, but was significantly decreased in the scallop crest area. Thus, it is concluded that maxi-anion channels are concentrated at the openings of T-tubules and along Z-lines in adult cardiomyocytes. This study showed that the smart-patch technique provides a powerful method to detect a unitary event of channels that are localized at some specific site in the narrow region.