Under the influence of estrogen, uterine smooth muscle becomes highly excitable, generating spontaneous and prolonged bursts of action potentials. In a study of the mechanisms by which this transition in excitability occurs, polyadenylated RNA from the uteri of estrogen-treated rats was injected into Xenopus oocytes. The injected oocytes expressed a novel voltage-dependent potassium current. This current was not observed in oocytes injected with RNA from several other excitable tissues, including rat brain and uterine smooth muscle from ovariectomized rats not treated with estrogen. The activation of this current on depolarization was exceptionally slow, particularly for depolarizations from relatively negative membrane potentials. Such a slowly activating channel may play an important role in the slow, repetitive bursts of action potentials in the myometrium.