The relative contribution of the high-affinity K(+) transporter AtHAK5 and the inward rectifier K(+) channel AtAKT1 to K(+) uptake in the high-affinity range of concentrations was studied in Arabidopsis thaliana ecotype Columbia (Col-0). The results obtained with wild-type lines, with T-DNA insertion in both genes and specific uptake inhibitors, show that AtHAK5 and AtAKT1 mediate the NH4+-sensitive and the Ba(2+)-sensitive components of uptake, respectively, and that they are the two major contributors to uptake in the high-affinity range of Rb(+) concentrations. Using Rb(+) as a K(+) analogue, it was shown that AtHAK5 mediates absorption at lower Rb(+) concentrations than AtAKT1 and depletes external Rb(+) to values around 1 muM. Factors such as the presence of K(+) or NH4+ during plant growth determine the relative contribution of each system. The presence of NH4+ in the growth solution inhibits the induction of AtHAK5 by K(+) starvation. In K(+)-starved plants grown without NH4+, both systems are operative, but when NH4+ is present in the growth solution, AtAKT1 is probably the only system mediating Rb(+) absorption, and the capacity of the roots to deplete Rb(+) is reduced.