The fine structure of mitochondria from the ventricular myocardium of canaries, sparrows, zebra finches, quail, and geese has been studied. The first three of these birds have very fast heart rates, the quail being intermediate, and the goose has a relatively slow rate. The canary heart has a unique form of mitochondrion containing large, parallel arrays of zigzag or angled cristae. Other cristae, continuous with the zigzag ones and also occupying large parts of the mitochondrial volume, are named retiform because of the hexagonal network which they form, sometimes in a single plane and sometimes three dimensional. These two types of cristae appear to be interconnectible. It is possible that there is a direct functional significance in these peculiar forms, but, in any case, the relative constancy of dimensions in these arrays is probably related to specific properties of the molecules of which the cristal membrane is composed. It is also demonstrated that this membrane is composed in part of approximately 30-A particles which are believed to be protein molecules. This unusual mitochondrial morphology is not seen either in the other fast bird hearts or in the slower ones, so that there is neither a simple correlation with heart rate nor probably with the separate parts of the cardiac cycle. Although none of the other four hearts shows more than an occasional angled crista, there does seem to be a rather gross correlation between heart rate and mitochondrial size and complexity of crista structure, but no correlation with presence or absence of zigzag forms. The cristae of quail heart mitochondria are disposed in unusually large close-packed whorls.

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