1. Using the unfertilized egg of the sea urchin, Arbacia, as osmometer, it was found that the rate with which water enters or leaves the cell depends on the osmotic pressure of the medium: the velocity constant of the diffusion process is higher when the cell is in concentrated sea water, and lower when the sea water medium is diluted with distilled water. Differences of more than tenfold in the value of the velocity constant were obtained in this way. When velocity constants are plotted against concentration of medium, a sigmoid curve is obtained.
2. These results are believed to indicate that cells are more permeable to water when the osmotic pressure of the medium is high than when it is low. This relation would be accounted for if water should diffuse through pores in a partially hydrated gel, constituting the cell membrane. In a medium of high osmotic pressure, the gel is conceived to give up water, to shrink, and therefore to allow widening of its pores with more ready diffusion of water through them. Conversely, in solutions of lower osmotic pressure, the gel would take up water and its pores become narrow.