Sulfonylurea receptors (SURs) form an integral part of the ATP-sensitive potassium (K(ATP)) channel complex that is present in most excitable cell types. K(ATP) channels couple cellular metabolism to electrical activity and provide a wide range of cellular functions including stimulus secretion coupling in pancreatic β cells. K(ATP) channels are composed of SURs and inward rectifier potassium channel (Kir6.x) subunits encoded by the ABCC8/9 and KCNJ8/11 genes, respectively. Recent advances in the genetics, molecular biology, and pharmacology of SURs have led to an increased understanding of these channels in the etiology and treatment of rare genetic insulin secretory disorders. Furthermore, common genetic variants in these genes are associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. In this review we summarize the molecular biology, pharmacology, and physiology of SURs and K(ATP) channels, highlighting recent advances in their genetics and understanding of rare insulin secretory disorders and susceptibility to type 2 diabetes.