A theory is presented which relates the nonstationary autocovariance (covariance) function to the kinetics of independently-gated ionic channels. The experimental covariance was calculated from ensembles of 256--504 current records elicited from single, voltage-clamped, frog myelinated nerve fibers. Analysis of the covariance shows that the decay of channels from conducting to nonconducting states proceeds more slowly late in a depolarization to near 0 mV, as compared with early in the same depolarization. This behavior is inconsistent with there being only one kinetic state corresponding to the open channel. The behavior can be explained by the existence of multiple kinetic states corresponding to the open channel, or, alternatively, by the existence of multiple, kinetically distinct populations of channels.