Kv11.1 channels are critical for the maintenance of a normal heart rhythm. The flow of potassium ions through these channels is controlled by two voltage-regulated gates, termed "activation" and "inactivation," located at opposite ends of the pore. Crucially in Kv11.1 channels, inactivation gating occurs much more rapidly, and over a distinct range of voltages, compared with activation gating. Although it is clear that the fourth transmembrane segments (S4), within each subunit of the tetrameric channel, are important for controlling the opening and closing of the activation gate, their role during inactivation gating is much less clear. Here, we use rate equilibrium free energy relationship (REFER) analysis to probe the contribution of the S4 "voltage-sensor" helix during inactivation of Kv11.1 channels. Contrary to the important role that charged residues play during activation gating, it is the hydrophobic residues (Leu529, Leu530, Leu532, and Val535) that are the key molecular determinants of inactivation gating. Within the context of an interconnected multi-domain model of Kv11.1 inactivation gating, our REFER analysis indicates that the S4 helix and the S4-S5 linker undergo a conformational rearrangement shortly after that of the S5 helix and S5P linker, but before the S6 helix. Combining REFER analysis with double mutant cycle analysis, we provide evidence for a hydrophobic interaction between residues on the S4 and S5 helices. Based on a Kv11.1 channel homology model, we propose that this hydrophobic interaction forms the basis of an intersubunit coupling between the voltage sensor and pore domain that is an important mediator of inactivation gating.