The use of excised patches has led to the identification and characterization of two channels not previously reported in microglia. A calcium-dependent K+ channel K(Ca) was activated in inside-out patches obtained from cultured bovine microglia and had a unitary conductance of 240 pS with symmetrical 140 mM K+ across patches. Mean open times of K(Ca) were exponentially dependent on patch potential and were increased with patch depolarization. Channel open probability (Popen) was increased with patch depolarization with either 5 mM or 140 mM internal K+ and was attributable to potential dependent enhancement of both opening frequency and mean open time. Whole cell currents showed the presence of a slowly activating K+ conductance, blocked by external TEA (at 2 mM) and likely the macroscopic correlate of the unitary K(Ca); half-maximal activation of the current occurred at +25 mV. An anion channel (unitary conductance of 325 pS with symmetrical Cl- across patches) was activated in inside-out patches with depolarizing and hyperpolarizing potential steps from 0 mV. Channel activation was not dependent on internal Ca2+. The anion currents inactivated during maintained potential steps with the time constant for inactivation faster with increased patch depolarization. The properties of the K(Ca) and anion channels in microglia membrane may have relevance to cell function in response to neuronal damage in the CNS.