Striated muscle fibers from the body and tail myotomes of a fish, the black Mollie, have been examined with particular attention to the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) and transverse tubular (or T) system. The material was fixed in osmium tetroxide and in glutaraldehyde, and the images provided by the two kinds of fixatives were compared. Glutaraldehyde fixes a fine structure that is broadly comparable with that preserved by osmium tetroxide alone but differs in some significant details. Especially significant improvements were obtained in the preservation of the T system, that is, the system of small tubules that pervades the fiber at every Z line or A-I junction level. As a result of this improved glutaraldehyde fixation, the T system is now clearly defined as an entity of fine structure distinct from the SR but uniquely associated with the SR and myofibrils. Glutaraldehyde fixation also reveals that the T system is a sarcolemmal derivative that retains its continuity with the sarcolemma and limits a space that is in direct communication with the extracellular environment. These structural features favor the conclusion that the T system plays a prominent role in the fast intracellular conduction of the excitatory impulse. The preservation of other elements of muscle fine structure, including the myofibrils, seems for reasons discussed, to be substantially improved by glutaraldehyde.

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