The cytoplasm of cells from a variety of tissues has been viewed in sections (0.25-1 micrometers) devoid of any embedding resin. Glutaraldehyde- and osmium tetroxide-fixed tissues were infiltrated and embedded in a water-miscible wax, polyethylene glycol (PEG), and subsequently sectioned on dry glass or diamond knives. The PEG matrix was removed and the sections were placed on Formvarcarbon-polylysine-coated grids, dehydrated, dried by the critical-point method, and observed in either the high- or low-voltage electron microscope. Stereoscopic views of cells devoid of embedding resin present an image of cell utrastructure unobscured by electron-scattering resins similar to the image of whole, unembedded critical-point-dried or freeze-dried cultured cells observed by transmission electron microscopy. All organelles, including the cytoskeletal structures, are identified and appear not to have been damaged during processing, although membrane components appear somewhat less distinct. The absence of an embedding matrix eliminates the need for additional staining to increase contrast, unlike the situation with specimens embedded in standard electron-scattering resins. The PEG technique thus appears to be a valuable adjunct to conventional methods for ultrastructural analysis.

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