Carotid bodies were removed from cats, fixed in buffered 1 per cent osmic acid, embedded in deaerated, nitrogenated methacrylate, and cut into thin sections for electron microscopic study. The carotid body is seen to be composed of islands of chemoreceptor and sustentacular cells surrounded by wide irregular sinusoids. These cells are separated from the sinusoids by relatively broad interstitial spaces which are filled with collagen, fibroblasts, and many unmyelinated nerve fibers with their Schwann cell sheaths. The chemoreceptor cells are surrounded by the flattened, multiprocessed sustentacular cells which serve to convey the axons from an interstitial to a pericellular location. These sustentacular cells are assumed to be lemmoblastic in origin. Relatively few axons are seen to abut on the chemoreceptor cells.
The cytoplasm of the chemoreceptor cell is characterized by numerous small mitochondria, units of granular endoplasmic reticulum, a small Golgi complex, and a variety of vesicles. There are many small vesicles diffusely scattered throughout the cytoplasm. In addition, there is a small number of dark-cored vesicles of the type which has been previously described in the adrenal medulla. These are usually associated with the Golgi complex. These findings are discussed in relation to the concepts of the origin of the chemoreceptor cell and the nature of the synapse.