The morphology of the transition zone between the terminal plate of the basal body and the 9 + 2 region of the somatic (non-oral) cilium has been examined in Paramecium tetraurelia. Freeze-fracture and thin-section techniques disclosed both membrane specializations and various internal structural linkages. Freeze-fracture material revealed sets of particles interrupting the unit membrane. The more distal of these form plaquelike arrays while the proximal set of particles forms the ciliary "necklace." The plaque regions correspond to anionic sites on the outer membrane surface as revealed by binding of polycationic ferritin. Both the plaque particles and the necklace particles appear to be in contact with outer doublet microtubules via a complex of connecting structures. In the interior of the transition zone an axosomal plate supports an axosome surrounded by a ring of lightly packed material. Only one of the two central tubules of the axoneme reaches and penetrates the axosome. Below the axosomal plate four rings, each approx. 20 nm wide, connect adjacent outer doublets. An intermediate plate lies proximal to these rings, and a terminal plate marks the proximal boundary of this zone. Nine transitional fibers extend from the region of the terminal plate to the plasmalemma. The observations described above have been used to construct a three-dimensional model of the transition region of "wild-type" Paramecium somatic cilia. It is anticipated that this model will be useful in future studies concerning possible function of transition-zone specializations, since Paramecium may be examined in both normal and reversed ciliary beating modes, and since mutants incapable of reverse beating are available.

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