1. The flight muscles of blowflies are easily dispersed in appropriate media to form suspensions of myofibrils which are highly suitable for phase contrast observation of the band changes associated with ATP-induced contraction.
2. Fresh myofibrils show a simple band pattern in which the A substance is uniformly distributed throughout the sarcomere, while the pattern characteristic of glycerinated material is identical with that generally regarded as typical of relaxed vertebrate myofibrils (A, I, H, Z, and M bands present).
3. Unrestrained myofibrils of both fresh and glycerinated muscle shorten by not more than about 20 per cent on exposure to ATP. In both cases the A substance migrates during contraction and accumulates in dense bands in the Z region, while material also accumulates in the M region. It is proposed that these dense contraction bands be designated the Cz, and Cm bands respectively. In restrained myofibrils, the I band does not disappear, but the Cz and Cm bands still appear in the presence of ATP.
4. The birefringence of the myofibrils decreases somewhat during contraction, but the shift of A substance does not result in an increase of birefringence in the Cz and Cm bands. It seems therefore that the A substance, if it is oriented parallel with the fibre axis in the relaxed myofibril, must exist in a coiled or folded configuration in the C hands of contracted myofibrils.
5. The fine structure of the flight muscle has been determined from electron microscopic examination of ultrathin sections. The myofibrils are of roughly hexagonal cross-section and consist of a regular single hexagonal array of compound myofilaments the cores of which extend continuously throughout all bands of the sarcomere in all states of contraction or relaxation so far investigated.
6. Each myofilament is joined laterally with its six nearest neighbours by thin filamentous bridges which repeat at regular intervals along the fibre axis and are present in the A, I, and Z, but not in the H or M bands. When stained with PTA, the myofilaments display a compound structure. In the A band, a lightly staining medullary region about 40 A in diameter is surrounded by a densely staining cortex, the over-all diameter of the myofilament being about 120 A. This thick cortex is absent in the I and H bands, but a thinner cortex is often visible.
7. It is suggested that the basic structure is a longitudinally continuous framework of F actin filaments, which are linked periodically by the lateral bridges (possibly tropomyosin). The A substance is free under certain conditions to migrate to the Z bands to form the Cz bands. The material forming the Cm bands possibly represents another component of the A substance. The results do not clearly indicate whether myosin is confined to the A bands or distributed throughout the sarcomere.