Gating of K(+) and other ion channels is 'hard-wired' within the channel protein. So it remains a puzzle how closely related channels in plants can show an unusually diverse range of biophysical properties. Gating of these channels lies at the heart of K(+) mineral nutrition, signalling, abiotic and biotic stress responses in plants. Thus, our knowledge of the molecular mechanics underpinning K(+) channel gating will be important for rational engineering of related traits in agricultural crops. Several key studies have added significantly to our understanding of channel gating in plants and have challenged current thinking about analogous processes found in animal K(+) channels. Such studies highlight how much of K(+) channel gating remains to be explored in plants.