Oxidizing agents of sulfhydryl groups such as iodosobenzoate, alkylating agents such as iodoacetamide, and mercaptide-forming agents such as cadmium chloride, mercuric chloride, p-chloromercuribenzoate, sodium arsenite, and p-carboxyphenylarsine oxide, added in small concentrations to a suspension of sea urchin sperm produced an increase in respiration. When the concentration was increased there was an inhibition. These effects are explained by postulating the presence in the cells of two kinds of sulfhydryl groups: soluble sulfhydryl groups, which regulate cellular respiration, and fixed sulfhydryl groups, present in the protein moiety of enzymes. Small concentrations of sulfhydryl reagents combine only with the first, thus producing an increase in respiration; when the concentration is increased, the fixed sulfhydryl groups are also attacked and inhibition of respiration is the consequence.
Other inhibitors of cell respiration, such as cyanide and urethanes, which do not combine with —SH groups, did not stimulate respiration in small concentration.