Considerable experimental evidence has accumulated demonstrating a role for voltage-gated K(+) (Kv) channel pore-forming (alpha) subunits of the Kv4 subfamily in the generation of fast transient outward K(+), I(A), channels. Immunohistochemical data suggest that I(A) channels in hippocampal and cortical pyramidal neurons reflect the expression of homomeric Kv4.2 channels. The experiments here were designed to define directly the role of Kv4.2 in the generation of I(A) in cortical pyramidal neurons and to determine the functional consequences of the targeted deletion of Kv4.2 on the resting and active membrane properties of these cells. Whole-cell voltage-clamp recordings, obtained from visual cortical pyramidal neurons isolated from mice in which the KCND2 (Kv4.2) locus was disrupted (Kv4.2-/- mice), revealed that I(A) is indeed eliminated. In addition, the densities of other Kv current components, specifically I(K) and I(ss), are increased significantly (P < 0.001) in most ( approximately 80%) Kv4.2-/- cells. The deletion of KCND2 (Kv4.2) and the elimination of I(A) is also accompanied by the loss of the Kv4 channel accessory protein KChIP3, suggesting that in the absence of Kv4.2, the KChIP3 protein is targeted for degradation. The expression levels of several Kv alpha subunits (Kv4.3, Kv1.4, Kv2.1, Kv2.2), however, are not measurably altered in Kv4.2-/- cortices. Although I(A) is eliminated in Kv4.2-/- pyramidal neurons, the mean +/- s.e.m. current threshold for action potential generation and the waveforms of action potentials are indistinguishable from those recorded from wild-type cells. Repetitive firing is also maintained in Kv4.2-/- cortical pyramidal neurons, suggesting that the increased densities of I(K) and I(ss) compensate for the in vivo loss of I(A).