1. A suction pipette whole-cell voltage-clamp technique was used to record membrane currents and potentials of isolated ventricular myocytes from rabbit hearts. 2. Transient outward current (Ito) was activated by voltage steps positive to -20 mV, increasing in amplitude with further depolarization to reach a maximum around +70 mV. The current attained its peak within 10 ms and then it inactivated for 100-200 ms. 3. A large portion of Ito still remained after the calcium current (ICa) was blocked when depolarizing pulses were applied at a frequency of 0.1 Hz or less. Therefore, this current component is referred to as calcium-insensitive Ito or It. 4. It showed voltage- and time-dependent inactivation similar to that observed in Purkinje fibres and other cardiac preparations. 5. The reversal potential of It depended on external K+ concentration, [K+]o, with a slope of 32 mV per 10-fold change in the presence of a normal [Na+]o (143 mM), while the slope was 48 mV per 10-fold change in low [Na+]o (1.0 mM). 6. It was completely inhibited by 2-4 mM-4-aminopyridine. Ito in the presence of ICa was also partially blocked by 4-aminopyridine and the remainder was abolished by 5 mM-caffeine. 7. The calcium-insensitive and caffeine-sensitive Ito differed in their decay rates as well as in their recovery time courses. The former was predominantly available at a slow pulsing rate, while the latter increased its amplitude with high-frequency depolarization. 8. The caffeine-sensitive Ito was inhibited by a blockade of ICa, by replacing Ca2+ with Sr2+, by external application of ryanodine and by internal application of EGTA. This indicates that the current is calcium-sensitive and is dependent on increased myoplasmic Ca2+ through Ca2+ influx via the sarcolemma and Ca2+ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum. The current is therefore designated as IK, Ca. 9. The physiological functions of IK, Ca and It are indicated by their contribution to ventricular repolarization at fast and slow heart rates, respectively.