Using the double sucrose gap, we have examined the role of K+ channels in the cholinergic depolarizations in response to field stimulation and acetylcholine (Ach) in canine trachealis. Acetylcholine-like depolarization per se decreased electrotonic potentials from hyperpolarizing currents. The net effect of acetylcholine (10−6 M) depolarization on membrane conductance was a small increase after the depolarization was compensated by current clamp. Reversal potentials for acetylcholine depolarization and for the excitatory junction potential (EJP) were determined by extrapolation to be 20–30 mV positive to the resting potential, previously shown to be approximately −55 mV. They were shifted positively by tetraethylammonium ion (TEA) at 20 mM or Ba2+ at 1 mM. TEA or Ba2+ initially depolarized the membrane and increased membrane resistance. Repolarization of the membrane restored any reductions in EJP amplitudes associated with depolarization. After 15 min, the membrane potential partially repolarized, and acetylcholine-induced depolarization and contractions were then increased by TEA. 4-Aminopyridine depolarized the membrane but decreased membrane resistance. Apamin (10−6 M), charybdotoxin (10−7 M), and glybenclamide (10−5 M) each failed to significantly depolarize membranes, increase membrane resistance, or reduce EJP amplitudes or depolarization to 10−6 M Ach. Glybenclamide reduced depolarizations to added acetylcholine slightly. TEA occasionally reduced the EJP markedly, but this was shown to be most likely a prejunctional effect mediated by norepinephrine release. TEA alone among K+-channel blockers slowed the onset and the time courses of the EJP as well as the acetylcholine-induced depolarization. K+-channel closure cannot be a complete explanation of acetylcholine-induced membrane effects on this tissue. Acetylcholine must have increased the conductance of an ion with a reversal potential positive to the resting potential in addition to any effect to close K+ channels.Key words: acetylcholine, tracheal smooth muscle, trachea, chloride channels, sucrose gap, potassium channels, tetraethylammonium, Ba2+.