This study was conducted to examine the role of membrane hyperpolarization in mediating vascular hyporeactivity induced by cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) in endothelial-denuded strips of rat thoracic aorta ex vivo. The CLP for 18 h elicited a significant fall of blood pressure and a severe vascular hyporeactivity to norepinephrine as seen in severe sepsis. At the end of the in vivo experiments, thoracic aortas were removed from both CLP-treated and control rats. After removal of the endothelium, aortic segments were mounted in myographs for the recording of isometric tension and smooth muscle membrane potential. The membrane potential recording showed that a hyperpolarization was observed in the CLP-treated rats when compared with the control rats. This hyperpolarization was reversed by iberiotoxin (a large-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel blocker), 4-aminopyridine (a voltage-dependent K+ channel blocker), barium (an inward rectifier K+ channels blocker), N-(1-adamantyl)-N′-cyclohexyl-4-morpholinecarboxamidine hydrochloride (a pore-forming blocker of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-sensitive K+ channels [KATP]), or methylene blue (a nonspecific guanylyl cyclase [GC] inhibitor). However, this hyperpolarization was not significantly affected by apamin (a small-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel blocker), glibenclamide (a sulfonylurea blocker of KATP), Nω-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester (a NOS inhibitor), or 1H-[1,2,4]oxadiazolo[4,3-a]quinoxalin-1-one (an NO-sensitive GC inhibitor). In addition, the basal tension of the tissues obtained from CLP rats was increased simultaneously, whereas membrane potential was reversed. In contrast, none of these inhibitors had significant effects on the membrane potential or the basal tension in control tissues. Thus, we provide electrophysiological and functional evidence demonstrating that an abnormal activation of K+ channels in vascular smooth muscle in animals with septic shock induced by CLP. Our observations suggest that the activation of large conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels, voltage-dependent K+ channels, inward rectifier K+ channels, and KATP channels, but not small conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels, contributes to CLP-induced vascular hyporeactivity. Furthermore, the hyperpolarization in septic shock induced by CLP is likely via non-NO-sensitive GC pathway.