TWIK-1, TREK-1 and TASK K+ channels comprise a class of pore-forming subunits with four membrane-spanning segments and two P domains. Here we report the cloning of TRAAK, a 398 amino acid protein which is a new member of this mammalian class of K+ channels. Unlike TWIK-1, TREK-1 and TASK which are widely distributed in many different mouse tissues, TRAAK is present exclusively in brain, spinal cord and retina. Expression of TRAAK in Xenopus oocytes and COS cells induces instantaneous and non-inactivating currents that are not gated by voltage. These currents are only partially inhibited by Ba2+ at high concentrations and are insensitive to the other classical K+ channel blockers tetraethylammonium, 4-aminopyridine and Cs+. A particularly salient feature of TRAAK is that they can be stimulated by arachidonic acid (AA) and other unsaturated fatty acids but not by saturated fatty acids. These channels probably correspond to the functional class of fatty acid-stimulated K+ currents that recently were identified in native neuronal cells but have not yet been cloned. These TRAAK channels might be essential in normal physiological processes in which AA is known to play an important role, such as synaptic transmission, and also in pathophysiological processes such as brain ischemia. TRAAK channels are stimulated by the neuroprotective drug riluzole.