Entire hydras or tentacles were fixed in OsO4 or in KMnO4 and thereafter washed, dehydrated, and embedded in a methacrylate mixture. Ultrathin sections were cut on an experimental model, thermal expansion type ultramicrotome or on a Porter-Blume microtome. The sections were examined in an RCA electron microscope. Type EMU-2 D. "Squash preparations" for light microscopy, were made from the hydra mouth region and the attached tentacles. These were observed with an AO Baker interference microscope.
In the mature organism, three of the four types of nematocysts normally found in hydra could be positively identified with the electron microscope. The desmonemes, the smallest type, have a dense matrix and a thin capsule. The two different types of mature isorhizas could not be distinguished with certainty. They are intermediate in size between the desmonemes and stenoteles and have a capsule with a dense matrix.
The cnidocil, or triggering hair, which is composed of a dense core and a fibrillar sheath has nine supporting elements arranged in a semi-circle near its base. Twenty "supporting structures" are arranged around the nematocyst capsule and interconnections between the supporting elements and these latter structures have been observed.
Development of the nematocysts involves an increase in density of the matrix. Spines can be seen in the interior of tubular structures within the capsules of the holotrichous isorhizas.