Free alveolar macrophages of normal mouse lung have been studied in the electron microscope. The tissue was obtained from several young adult white mice. One other animal was instilled intranasally with diluted India ink 1½ hours prior to the removal of the lung. Thin sections of the osmium-fixed, methacrylate-embedded tissue were examined either in an RCA EMU 2 electron microscope or in a Siemens and Halske Elmiskop I b. A few thick sections obtained from the same embeddings were stained for iron.
The normal alveolar macrophages, which are usually in contact with the alveolar epithelium, were found to contain a variety of inclusion bodies, along with the usual cytoplasmic components like mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and Palade granules. Another typical component of the cytoplasm of these cells which appears as small (∼6 mµ) very dense granules of composite fine structure is interpreted as ferritin. It is assumed that this ferritin is formed from red blood cells ingested by the alveolar macrophages.
The macrophages in the alveoli were found to phagocytize intranasally instilled India ink particles. Such cells, with engulfed India ink particles, were often of more rounded form and the particles were frequently seen lying inside membrane-bound vacuoles or vesicles of the cytoplasm. The membrane of a few vesicles containing India ink particles was seen as the invaginated portion of the cell plasma membrane, and in one instance these same vesicles were seemingly interconnected with a rough surfaced cisterna of the endoplasmic reticulum. The process of phagocytosis is recognized as related to the "normal" process of pinocytosis.