Voltage-activated potassium channels play an important part in the control of excitability in nerve and muscle. Different K+ channels are involved in establishing the resting potential, determining the duration of action potentials, modulation of transmitter release, and in rhythmic firing patterns and delayed excitation. Using in vitro transcripts made from a directional complementary DNA library we have isolated, by expression cloning in Xenopus oocytes, a novel K+-channel gene (drk1). Functionally, drk1 encodes channels that are K+ selective and belong to the delayed rectifier class of channels, rather than the A-type class encoded by the Shaker gene of Drosophila. The channels show sigmoidal voltage-dependent activation and do not inactivate within 500 ms. Structurally, drk1 encodes an amino-acid sequence which is more closely related to the Drosophila Shab gene than to the Shaker gene.