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Recent evidence shows that inhibition of human Kv3 channels by intravenous anesthetics occurs at clinical concentrations. The effects of volatile anesthetics on these human ion channels are unknown. This study was designed to establish whether minimum alveolar concentrations (MAC) of halothane, enflurane, isoflurane, and desflurane exhibit effects on Kv3 channels. To obtain an indication whether these findings may be specific to Kv3 channels, the effects of enflurane and isoflurane on human Kv1.1 channels were also investigated.Kv3 channels natively expressed in SH-SY5Y cells and Kv1.1 channels expressed in HEK293 cells were measured with the whole cell patch clamp technique by standard protocols. Concentrations of volatile anesthetics were determined by gas chromatography.Halothane, enflurane, isoflurane, and desflurane reversibly inhibited Kv3 channels in a concentration-dependent manner. Concentrations at half-maximal effect (IC50 values) ranged between 1,800 and 4,600 μm. Hill coefficients were between 1.7 and 2.5. IC50 values for inhibition of Kv1.1 channels were 2,800 and 5,200 μm, and Hill coefficients were 3.9 and 5.6 for enflurane and isoflurane, respectively.Volatile anesthetics inhibit human Kv3 channels at clinical concentrations. At 1–3 MAC, inhibition would account on average for 2–12%. Inhibition would be highest with enflurane (between 3% and 22%) and lowest with isoflurane (between 0.2% and 3%). Kv1.1 channels would only be inhibited by enflurane at clinical concentrations (2% at 2 MAC and 8% at 3 MAC). Whether the degree of K channel inhibition by volatile anesthetics may contribute to their clinical action needs further study.