The clonal rat pituitary cell line GH4C1 expresses the genes for several voltage-dependent potassium channels including Kv1.5 and Kv1.4. Dexamethasone, a glucocorticoid agonist, induces a slowly inactivating potassium current in these cells but does not alter the amplitude of a rapidly inactivating component of potassium current. We have found that the induction of the slowly inactivating current can be blocked by an antisense phosphorothioate deoxyoligonucleotide to the Kv1.5 mRNA sequence. In contrast, antisense deoxyoligonucleotides against Kv1.4 mRNA specifically decrease the expression of the dexamethasone-insensitive rapidly inactivating current. These results demonstrate the usefulness of antisense oligonucleotides in correlating potassium currents with specific potassium channel proteins in the cell types in which they are naturally expressed.