Many venom toxins interfere with ion channel function. Toxins, as specific, high affinity ligands, have played an important part in purifying and characterizing many ion channel proteins. Our knowledge of potassium ion channel structure is meager because until recently, no specific potassium channel toxins were known, or identified as such. This review summarizes the sudden explosion of research on potassium channel toxins that has occurred in recent years. Toxins are discussed in terms of their structure, physiological and pharmacological properties, and the characterization of toxin binding sites on different subtypes of potassium ion channels.