Two major K(+) channels are expressed in T cells, (i) the voltage-dependent K(V)1.3 channel and (ii) the Ca(2+)-activated K(+) channel KCa 3.1 (IKCa channel). Both critically influence T cell effector functions in vitro and animal models in vivo. Here we identify and characterize TWIK-related acid-sensitive potassium channel 1 (TASK1) and TASK3 as an important third K(+) conductance on T lymphocytes. T lymphocytes constitutively express TASK1 and -3 protein. Application of semi-selective TASK blockers resulted in a significant reduction of cytokine production and cell proliferation. Interference with TASK channels on CD3(+) T cells revealed a dose-dependent reduction ( approximately 40%) of an outward current in patch clamp recordings indicative of TASK channels, a finding confirmed by computational modeling. In vivo relevance of our findings was addressed in an experimental model of multiple sclerosis, adoptive transfer experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Pretreatment of myelin basic protein-specific encephalitogenic T lymphocytes with TASK modulators was associated with significant amelioration of the disease course in Lewis rats. These data introduce K(2)P channels as novel potassium conductance on T lymphocytes critically influencing T cell effector function and identify a possible molecular target for immunomodulation in T cell-mediated autoimmune disorders.