Isoprenaline is a beta-adrenergic agonist of clinical importance as a remedy for asthma. In airway smooth muscle its relaxant action is accompanied by hyperpolarization of the membrane and elevation of the level of intracellular cyclic AMP. Hyperpolarization and relaxation are also induced by drugs such as forskolin, theophylline and dibutyryl cAMP, indicating that cAMP-dependent phosphorylation is involved in producing the electrical response. Cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase (protein kinase A) has been reported to activate Ca2+-dependent K+ channels in cultured aortic smooth muscle cells and snail neurons. The membrane of tracheal smooth-muscle cells is characterized by a dense distribution of Ca2+-dependent K+-channels. We have now examined the effect of isoprenaline and protein kinase A on Ca2+-dependent K+-channels in isolated smooth muscle cells of rabbit trachea, using the patch-clamp technique. Our results show that the open-state probability of Ca2+-dependent K+-channel of tracheal myocytes is reversibly increased by either extracellular application of isoprenaline or intracellar application of protein kinase A. We also show that this effect is significantly enhanced and prolonged in the presence of a potent protein phosphatase inhibitor, okadaic acid.