The effects of a series of concentrations of the narcotics, ethyl carbamate and chloral hydrate, have been determined on the consumption of oxygen by fertilized and unfertilized eggs of the sea urchin Arbacia punctulata. In the fertilized eggs the effects of the two inhibitors on cell division were also examined. The following observations were made:
1. Assuming that the narcotic acts upon a single catalyst in the unfertilized egg the degree to which the consumption of oxygen is inhibited in this resting cell can be related to the narcotic concentration by an expression derived from the law of mass action.
2. To account for the relation between the concentration of the narcotic and its effect on respiration in the fertilized eggs, it is necessary to conclude that in them the narcotic acts on two parallel respiratory systems. The experimental data can be quantitatively predicted (1) if the reaction of the narcotic on the two systems is governed by the law of mass action and (2) if 40 per cent of the oxygen consumption is mediated by one system, the "activity" system, and the remainder by the other, the "resting" or "basal" system.
3. The mass law constants applying to the resting system in the fertilized egg are similar to those for the single system functioning in the unfertilized egg so that these two respiratory systems are probably identical.
4. The concentrations of the narcotics just sufficient to abolish cell division affect primarily the activity system, the existence of which was inferred from the respiratory experiments. It is concluded that normal cell division requires specifically the normal function of the activity system, that in fact the energy for cell division is made available through that system.