Various antidepressants are commonly used for the treatment of depression and several other neuropsychiatric disorders. In addition to their primary effects on serotonergic or noradrenergic neurotransmitter systems, antidepressants have been shown to interact with several receptors and ion channels. However, the molecular mechanisms that underlie the effects of antidepressants have not yet been sufficiently clarified. G protein-activated inwardly rectifying K(+) (GIRK, Kir3) channels play an important role in regulating neuronal excitability and heart rate, and GIRK channel modulation has been suggested to have therapeutic potential for several neuropsychiatric disorders and cardiac arrhythmias. In the present study, we investigated the effects of various classes of antidepressants on... GIRK channels using the Xenopus oocyte expression assay. In oocytes injected with mRNA for GIRK1/GIRK2 or GIRK1/GIRK4 subunits, extracellular application of sertraline, duloxetine, and amoxapine effectively reduced GIRK currents, whereas nefazodone, venlafaxine, mianserin, and mirtazapine weakly inhibited GIRK currents even at toxic levels. The inhibitory effects were concentration-dependent, with various degrees of potency and effectiveness. Furthermore, the effects of sertraline were voltage-independent and time-independent during each voltage pulse, whereas the effects of duloxetine were voltage-dependent with weaker inhibition with negative membrane potentials and time-dependent with a gradual decrease in each voltage pulse. However, Kir2.1 channels were insensitive to all of the drugs. Moreover, the GIRK currents induced by ethanol were inhibited by sertraline but not by intracellularly applied sertraline. The present results suggest that GIRK channel inhibition may reveal a novel characteristic of the commonly used antidepressants, particularly sertraline, and contributes to some of the therapeutic effects and adverse effects.