Mitochondrial fractions, relatively free from contamination by other cytoplasmic structures, have been isolated by differential centrifugation from homogenates of brown adipose tissue from starved rats. It was possible in such fractions to distinguish two types of mitochondria in this tissue.
Type I mitochondria, when morphologically intact, are limited by a bilaminar membrane and show regular parallel cristae. In isolated fractions, a proportion of these mitochondria are swollen, vacuolation occurring within the cristae between their limiting membranes.
Type II mitochondria are distinguished from the more numerous type I bodies by the opaque appearance of their matrix. They are limited by a membrane which is in part single, and in part double. They show a few, but crisply outlined internal membranes. Vacuolation of this type of mitochondrion has not been observed.
Vacuolation comparable to that in brown fat mitochondria was also observed between the two laminae of the enclosing membrane and within the cristae of liver mitochondria.