Ventricular tachyarrhythmias are often precipitated by physical or emotional stress, indicating a link between increased adrenergic stimulation and cardiac ion channel activity. Human ether-a-go-go related gene (hERG) potassium channels conduct the rapid component of delayed rectifier potassium current, I(kr), a crucial component for action potential repolarization. To evaluate the correlation between increased alpha(1)-adrenergic activity and the rapid component of cardiac I(kr), whole-cell patch-clamp recording was performed in isolated guinea-pig ventricular myocytes. Stimulation of alpha(1)-adrenoceptors using phenylephrine (0.1 nM-100 microM) reduced I(kr) current in a dose-dependent manner at 37 degrees C. Phenylephrine (0.1 microM) reduced I(kr) current to 66.83+/-3.16%. Chelerythrine (1 microM), a specific inhibitor of protein kinase C (PKC) completely inhibited the changes in I(kr) trigged by 0.1 microM phenylephrine. KT5720 (2.5 microM), a specific inhibitor of protein kinase A (PKA) partially inhibited the current decrease induced by 0.1 microM phenylephrine. Both chelerythrine and KT5720 drastically reduced the phenylephrine-induced effects, indicating possible involvement of PKC and PKA in the alpha(1)-adrenergic inhibition of I(kr). Our data suggest a link between I(kr) and the alpha(1)-adrenoceptor, involving activation of PKC and PKA in arrhythmogenesis.