A technique has been developed for the demonstration of lymphatic capillaries in the ear of the mouse by means of vital dyes and for tests of their permeability under normal and pathological conditions. The lymphatics become visible as closed channels from which the dyes escape secondarily into the tissue. Some of them, cross-connections, with extremely narrow lumen, would seem ordinarily not to be utilized.
There is active flow along the lymphatics of the mouse ear under ordinary circumstances. The movement of dye was always toward the main collecting system. The valves of the lymphatics as well as fluid flow prevented distal spread. There was in addition slow migration, apparently interstitial in character, but in the same general direction, of dots of color produced by the local injection of dye.
The normal permeability of the lymphatics was studied with dyes of graded diffusibility. Their walls proved readily permeable for those highly diffusible pigments that the blood capillaries let through easily, but retained those that the latter retained. Finely particulate matter (India ink, "Hydrokollag"), they did not let pass. No gradient of permeability was observed to exist along them such as exists along the blood capillaries of certain organs.
The observed phenomena of lymphatic permeability, like those of the permeability of the blood capillaries, can be explained on the assumption that the lymphatic wall behaves like a semipermeable membrane.