To sustain cardiac muscle contractility relatively independent of temperature, some fish species are capable of temporarily altering excitation-contraction coupling processes to meet the demands of their environment. The Pacific bluefin tuna, Thunnus orientalis, is a partially endothermic fish that inhabits a wide range of thermal niches. The present study examined the effects of temperature and thermal acclimation on sarcolemmal K(+) currents and their role in action potential (AP) generation in bluefin tuna cardiomyocytes. Atrial and ventricular myocytes were enzymatically isolated from cold (14 degrees C)- and warm (24 degrees C)-acclimated bluefin tuna. APs and current-voltage relations of K(+) channels were measured using the whole cell current and voltage clamp techniques, respectively. Data were collected either at the cardiomyocytes' respective acclimation temperature of 14 or 24 degrees C or at a common test temperature of 19 degrees C (to reveal the effects of acclimation). AP duration (APD) was prolonged in cold-acclimated (CA) cardiomyocytes tested at 14 degrees C compared with 19 degrees C and in warm-acclimated (WA) cardiomyocytes tested at 19 degrees C compared with 24 degrees C. This effect was mirrored by a decrease in the density of the delayed-rectifier current (I(Kr)), whereas the density of the background inward-rectifier current (I(K1)) was unchanged. When CA and WA cardiomyocytes were tested at a common temperature of 19 degrees C, no significant effects of temperature acclimation on AP shape or duration were observed, whereas I(Kr) density was markedly increased in CA cardiomyocytes. I(K1) density was unaffected in CA ventricular myocytes but was significantly reduced in CA atrial myocytes, resulting in a depolarization of atrial resting membrane potential. Our results indicate the bluefin AP is relatively short compared with other teleosts, which may allow the bluefin heart to function at cold temperatures without the necessity for thermal compensation of APD.