The Kv1.3 protein is a member of the large family of voltage-dependent K+ subunits (Kv channels), which assemble to form tetrameric membrane-spanning channels that provide a selective pore for the conductance of K+ across the cell membrane. Kv1.3 differs from most other Kv channels in that deletion of Kv1.3 gene produces very striking changes in development and structure of the olfactory bulb, where Kv1.3 is expressed at high levels, resulting in a lower threshold for detection of odors, an increased number of synaptic glomeruli and alterations in the levels of a variety of neuronal signaling molecules. Because Kv1.3 is also expressed in the cerebral cortex, we have now examined the effects of deletion of the Kv1.3 gene on the expression of interneuron populations of the cerebral cortex. Using unbiased stereology we found an increase in the number of parvalbumin (PV) cells in whole cerebral cortex of Kv1.3-/- mice relative to that in wild-type mice, and a decrease in the number of calbindin (CB), calretinin (CR), neuropeptide Y (NPY), vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), and somatostatin (SOM) interneurons. These changes are accompanied by a decrease in the cortical volume such that the cell density of PV interneurons is significantly increased and that of SOM neurons is decreased in Kv1.3-/- animals. Our studies suggest that, as in the olfactory bulb, Kv1.3 plays a unique role in neuronal differentiation and/or survival of interneuron populations and that expression of Kv1.3 is required for normal cortical function.