The E71 residue is buried near the selectivity filter in the KcsA K+ channel and forms a carboxyl-carboxylate bridge with D80. We have investigated the importance of E71 by examining neutralization mutants at this position using biochemical and electrophysiological methods. E71 mutations differentially destabilize the detergent-solubilized tetramer; among them, the E71V neutralization mutant has a relatively subtle effect. The E71V channel displays electrical activity when reconstituted into planar lipid bilayers. In single channel recordings, the mutant retains K+/Na+ selectivity, and its conductance in the outward direction is unaltered. Some conduction properties are changed: inward conductance is increased. Our results show that that the E71 side chain is not a primary determinant of ion selectivity or conduction in the wild-type channel, either directly or through the E71:D80 carboxyl-carboxylate bridge.