Calcium-activated potassium channels mediate many biologically important functions in electrically excitable cells. Despite recent progress in the molecular analysis of voltage-activated K+ channels, Ca(2+)-activated K+ channels have not been similarly characterized. The Drosophila slowpoke (slo) locus, mutations of which specifically abolish a Ca(2+)-activated K+ current in muscles and neurons, provides an opportunity for molecular characterization of these channels. Genomic and complementary DNA clones from the slo locus were isolated and sequenced. The polypeptide predicted by slo is similar to voltage-activated K+ channel polypeptides in discrete domains known to be essential for function. Thus, these results indicate that slo encodes a structural component of Ca(2+)-activated K+ channels.