The effect of RGS4, a GTPase-activating protein, on the deactivation kinetics and basal activity of GIRK1/GIRK2 channels activated by the human kappa-opioid receptor (hKOR) was investigated. Co-expression in Xenopus oocytes of RGS4 reduces the basal GIRK1/GIRK2 current and strongly increases the percentage agonist-evoked K+ conductance. RGS4 reconstitutes the native gating kinetics by accelerating GIRK1/GIRK2 channel deactivation, a phenomenon also seen after activation with other 7 TM receptors (e.g. muscarine type). In the absence of RGS4, the GIRK1/GIRK2 conductance was increased by approx. 50% after hKOR stimulation with the kappa-selective opioid receptor ligand, U69593; however more importantly, at the end of the washout period it was dramatically reduced to about 60% of the basal conductance as measured before receptor stimulation. Furthermore, we found that repeated receptor stimulation causes an increase of the agonist-gated deactivation kinetics, without affecting the maximal and minimal conductance levels of GIRK1/GIRK2 channels during and after agonist application. Unlike in the absence of RGS4, coexpression with RGS4 completely abolished the reduction of basal conductance after agonist washout and the deactivation kinetics remained unaffected upon repeated agonist application. The results presented here clearly indicate that previous stimulation by agonists activating G protein-coupled receptors may have long-lasting, strong consequences on the following responses. Therefore, our study provides evidence for a novel modulation of deactivation kinetics of GIRK1/GIRK2 currents in the absence of RGS4.