We previously identified the function of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) p7 protein as an ion channel in artificial lipid bilayers and demonstrated that this in vitro activity is inhibited by amantadine. Here we show that the ion channel activity of HCV p7 expressed in mammalian cells can substitute for that of influenza virus M2 in a cell-based assay. This was also the case for the p7 from the related virus, bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV). Moreover, amantadine was shown to abrogate HCV p7 function in this assay at a concentration that specifically inhibits M2. Mutation of a conserved basic loop located between the two predicted trans-membrane alpha helices rendered HCV p7 non-functional as an ion channel. The intracellular localization of p7 was unaffected by this mutation and was found to overlap significantly with membranes associated with mitochondria. Demonstration of p7 ion channel activity in cellular membranes and its inhibition by amantadine affirm the protein as a target for future anti-viral chemotherapy.