GABAC receptors, expressed predominately in vertebrate retina, are thought to be formed mainly by GABA rho subunits, each of which exhibits distinct physiological and pharmacological properties. In this study, the receptors formed by perch GABA rho subunits were expressed in HEK cells, and their single channel conductances were determined using noise analysis techniques. The receptors formed by the perch rho1A subunit gate a channel with a conductance of 0.2 pS, whereas the receptors formed by GABA rho2 subunits exhibit much higher channel conductances, i.e., 3.2 and 3.5 pS for perch rho2A and rho2B receptors, respectively. A comparison of the amino acid sequences of the channel-forming TMII regions of the various subunits suggested that a single amino acid at position 2' was a potential site for the large differential in conductance. We found that switching the serine residue at that site in the GABA rho2 subunit to the proline residue present in the rho1 subunit reduced the channel conductance to a level similar to that of the wild type rho1 receptor. Conversely, mutating proline to serine in the amino acid sequence of the rho1 receptor significantly increased its unitary conductance. These results indicate that a single amino acid in the TMII region plays an important role in determining the single channel conductance of the GABAC receptors.