Frontal organs and epiphyses of the pineal system from the adult frog, Rana pipiens, were fixed in s-collidine-buffered osmium tetroxide, embedded in Epon 812, and examined by electron microscopy. Epiphyseal material was also fixed in a variety of ways and subjected to a series of cytochemical tests for light microscopy. An ultrastructure resembling that of lateral eye retina is confirmed in this species. Photoreceptor cells of the epiphysis and frontal organ display many cytological features similar to those of retinal rods and cones in the arrangement of their outer and inner segments and synaptic components. However, in these pineal organs the outer segments are disoriented relative to each other and may display a disarranged internal organization unlike normal retinal photoreceptors. Furthermore, other pineal outer segments often appear degenerate. Since immature stages in the development of new outer segments also appear to be present, adult pineal photoreceptors are probably engaged in a constant renewal of outer segment membranes. The evidence further suggests that macrophages are involved in phagocytosis of degenerated outer segments. Postulated photoreceptor activities and the possibility of secondary pineal functions, such as secretion, are discussed in view of current morphological and cytochemical findings.

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