1. Rat liver mitochondria were examined in the electron microscope by using negative staining in the presence of 0·3m-sucrose. The intact outer membrane does not appear to be freely permeable to the stain. Where the stain penetrated through a tear it was seen that the inner membrane had randomly oriented grooves, many of which contained round structures varying between 200 and 900å in diameter. Laminar structures containing two to five layers of approx. 50å each were found at the periphery. 2. When the outer membrane was removed by treating the mitochondria with digitonin several types of inner-membrane complexes were formed and they showed a general correlation with those observed in sectioned samples of the same preparations. The main types were: (a) a condensed form looking very much like the intact mitochondrion without the outer membrane (this still showed the grooves, some of which contained the round structures, and the laminar whirls at the edges); (b) a more transparent form containing tubules of uniform width and various lengths (some of these appeared to terminate in a hole at the surface of the inner membrane); (c) a large torn sac, probably the inner membrane, containing some tubules and vesicles. 3. When the inner-membrane complex was further treated with digitonin it was disrupted and the resulting material consisted of pieces of membrane, doughnut-shaped units and lamellar structures. Most of these pieces varied in size between 500 and 1000å.
- © 1968 The Biochemical Society