The effects of ketamine on transient outward potassium current (I(to)) of isolated human atrial myocytes were investigated to understand the mechanism of part of its effects by whole-cell patch-clamp. Atrial myocytes were enzymatically isolated from specimens of human atrial appendage obtained from patients under going cardiac valve displacing. Ito is recorded in voltage-clamp modes using the patch-clamp technique at room temperature. Currents signals were recorded by an Axopatch 200B amplifier with the Digidata 1322A-pClamp 9.0 data acquisition system. Ketamine decreased I(to) of human atrial myocytes in a dose-dependent manner. The current-voltage curve was significantly lowered, 30, 100, 300, and 1000 micromol x L(-1) ketamine decreased respectively I(to) current density about (13.62 +/- 0.04)%, (38.92 +/- 0.05)%, (72.24 +/- 0.10)% and (83.84 +/- 0.05)% at the potential of 50 mV, with an IC50 of 121 micromol x L(-1). The I(to) activation curve, inactivation curve and the recovery curve were not altered by ketamine. So, ketamine concentration-dependently decreased I(to) of human atrial myocytes.