Measurements of the electric potential difference across the hyphal wall and the cell membrane were made on external hyphae of three species of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus Gigaspora margarita, Scutellospora calospora and Glomus coronatum and on germ tubes of Gi. margarita. The values of transmembrane electric potential difference recorded (∼ –40 mV) are less negative than those previously reported from hyphae of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi closely associated with roots and from filamentous fungi. The external hyphae of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi grown in soil had similar values of electric potential difference to those grown in soil-less culture, and to germ tubes. Thermodynamic calculations showed that despite these low values of electric potential difference, efficient high-affinity uptake of phosphate is possible. The transmembrane electric potential difference of germ tubes of Gi. margarita became more negative when plant root extract was added to the medium, showing for the first time that the early stages of interaction between plant and fungus occur via direct effects on the plasma membrane rather than via effects on gene expression. Addition of K+ reversibly depolarized the transmembrane electric potential difference of germ tubes of Gi. margarita, indicating that despite the low electric potential difference the fungus has control over the permeability of the plasmamembrane to K+.