The death ligand TRAIL represents a promising therapeutic strategy for metastatic melanoma, however prevalent and inducible resistance limit its applicability. A new approach is presented here for sensitization to TRAIL. It is based on inhibition of the membrane potassium channel KCa3.1 (IK1), which serves fundamental cellular functions related to membrane potential. The selective inhibitor TRAM-34 did not induce apoptosis by itself but synergistically enhanced TRAIL sensitivity and overrode TRAIL resistance in a large panel of melanoma cell lines. Expression of IK1 was also found in mitochondria, and its inhibition resulted in mitochondrial membrane hyperpolarization and an early activation of Bax. The combination of TRAM-34 and TRAIL resulted in massive release of mitochondrial factors, cytochrome c, AIF and SMAC/DIABLO. Bax knockdown and Bcl-2 overexpression abolished apoptosis. Overexpression of XIAP diminished apoptosis by two-fold, and SMAC knockdown almost completely abolished apoptosis. These data uncover the existence of a rheostat in melanoma cells, consisting of inhibitor of apoptosis proteins and SMAC, which regulates TRAIL sensitivity. Thus, a new strategy is described based on mitochondrial membrane channels, which correspond to Bax activation. As both TRAIL and IK1 inhibitors had shown only minor side effects in clinical trials, a clinical application of this combination is conceivable.