The vascular ATP-sensitive K(+) (K(ATP)) channel is targeted by a variety of vasoactive substances, playing an important role in vascular tone regulation. Our recent studies indicate that the vascular K(ATP) channel is inhibited in oxidative stress via S-glutathionylation. Here we show evidence for the molecular basis of the S-glutathionylation and its structural impact on channel gating. By comparing the oxidant responses of the Kir6.1/SUR2B channel with the Kir6.2/SUR2B channel, we found that the Kir6.1 subunit was responsible for oxidant sensitivity. Oxidant screening of Kir6.1-Kir6.2 chimeras demonstrated that the N terminus and transmembrane domains of Kir6.1 were crucial. Systematic mutational analysis revealed three cysteine residues in these domains: Cys(43), Cys(120), and Cys(176). Among them, Cys(176) was prominent, contributing to >80% of the oxidant sensitivity. The Kir6.1-C176A/SUR2B mutant channel, however, remained sensitive to both channel opener and inhibitor, which indicated that Cys(176) is not a general gating site in Kir6.1, in contrast to its counterpart (Cys(166)) in Kir6.2. A protein pull-down assay with biotinylated glutathione ethyl ester showed that mutation of Cys(176) impaired oxidant-induced incorporation of glutathione (GSH) into the Kir6.1 subunit. In contrast to Cys(176), Cys(43) had only a modest contribution to S-glutathionylation, and Cys(120) was modulated by extracellular oxidants but not intracellular GSSG. Simulation modeling of Kir6.1 S-glutathionylation suggested that after incorporation to residue 176, the GSH moiety occupied a space between the slide helix and two transmembrane helices. This prevented the inner transmembrane helix from undergoing conformational changes necessary for channel gating, retaining the channel in its closed state.