Voltage-activated potassium (Kv) channels from mammalian brain are hetero-oligomers containing alpha and beta subunits. Coexpression of Kv1 alpha and Kv beta 1 subunits confers rapid A-type inactivation on noninactivating potassium channels (delayed rectifiers) in expression systems in vitro. We have delineated a Kv1.5 aminoterminal region of up to 90 amino acids (residues 112-201) that is sufficient for interactions of Kv1.5 alpha and Kv beta 1 subunits. Within this region of the Kv1.5 amino terminus (residues 193-201), a Kv beta 1 interaction site necessary for Kv beta 1-mediated rapid inactivation of Kv1.5 currents was detected. This interaction site motif (FYE/QLGE/DEAM/L) is found exclusively in the Shaker-related subfamily (Kv1). The results show that hetero-oligomerization between alpha and Kv beta 1 subunits is restricted to Shaker-related potassium channel alpha subunits.