Abstract The P2X7 channel is a member of the P2X family of ligand-gated ion channels which respond to ATP as the endogenous agonist. Studies suggest that P2X7 has a potentially pivotal role in inflammatory responses largely stemming from its role in mediating the release of IL-1β in response to ATP. We report the identification of seven variants of human P2X7 which result from alternative splicing. Two of these variants (one lacking the first transmembrane domain, the second lacking the entire cytoplasmic tail) were compared to the full-length channel. Real-time PCR analysis demonstrated that both variants were expressed in various tissues and that the cytoplasmic tail deleted variant is highly expressed. Deletion of the first transmembrane domain resulted in a non-functional channel. Deletion of the cytoplasmic tail did not affect ion movement but severely affected the ability to form a large pore and to induce activation of caspases.