ATP-sensitive K+ (K(ATP)) channels in kidney are considered to play roles in regulating membrane potential during the change in intracellular ATP concentration. They are composed of channel subunits (Kir6.1, Kir6.2), which are members of the inwardly rectifying K+ channel family, and sulphonylurea receptors (SUR1, SUR2A and SUR2B), which belong to the ATP-binding cassette superfamily. In the present study, we have investigated the expression and localization of Kir6.1 in rat kidney with Western blot analysis, immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization histochemistry, and immunoelectron microscopy. Western blot analysis showed that Kir6.1 was expressed in the mitochondria and microsome fractions of rat kidney and very weakly in the membrane fractions. Immunohistochemistry revealed that Kir6.1 was widely distributed in renal tubular epithelial cells, glomerular mesangial cells, and smooth muscles of blood vessels. In immunoelectron microscopy, Kir6.1 is mainly localized in the mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum (ER), and very weakly in cell membranes. Thus, Kir6.1 is contained in the kidney and may be a candidate of mitochondrial K(ATP) channels.