Cation channel gating may occur either at or below the inner vestibule entrance or at the selectivity filter. To differentiate these possibilities in inward rectifier (Kir) channels, we examined cysteine accessibility in the ATP-gated Kir6.2 channel. MTSEA and MTSET both block channels and modify M2 cysteines with identical voltage dependence. If entry is restricted to open channels, modification rates will slow in ATP-closed channels, but because the reagent can be trapped in the pore following brief openings, this may not be apparent until open probability is extremely low (<0.01). When these conditions are met, modification does slow significantly, indicating gated access and highlighting an important caveat for interpretation of MTS-accessibility measurements: reagent "trapping" in nominally "closed" channels may obscure gated access.