In excitation–contraction coupling (EC coupling) of skeletal muscle, large and rapid changes of the myoplasmic Ca2+ concentration mediate the activation and termination of force. The L-type Ca2+ channel (dihydropyridine receptor, DHP receptor) is a central component of the EC coupling process. Its predominant role is to provide the Ca2+ release channels of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) with the sensitivity to cell membrane voltage. The DHP receptor consists of five different proteins (α1S, β1, γ1, δ and α2) whose tasks and functional characteristics are still incompletely understood. This short review summarizes progress made in studying the physiology of the γ1 subunit, a membrane polypeptide that is highly specific for skeletal muscle. The focus is on recent results obtained from muscle of γ1-deficient mice.