The development of contracture related to changes of ionic environment (ionic contracture coupling) has been studied in the slowly responding fibers of frog skeletal muscle. When deprived of external ions for 30 minutes by use of solutions of sucrose, mannitol, or glucose, the slow skeletal muscle fibers, but not the fast, develop pronounced and easily reversible contractures. Partial replacement of the non-ionic substance with calcium or sodium reduces the development of the contractures but replacement by potassium does not. The concentration of calcium necessary to prevent contracture induced by a non-ionic solution is greater than that needed to maintain relaxation in ionic solutions. To suppress the non-ionic-induced contractures to the same extent as does calcium requires several fold higher concentrations of sodium. Two types of ionic contracture coupling occur in slow type striated muscle fibers: (a) a calcium deprivation type which develops maximally at full physiological concentration of external sodium, shows a flow rate dependency for the calcium-depriving fluid, and is lessened when the sodium concentration is decreased by replacement with sucrose; (b) a sodium deprivation type which occurs maximally without external sodium, is lessened by increasing the sodium concentration, and has no flow rate dependency for ion deprivation. Both types of contracture are largely prevented by the presence of sufficient calcium. There thus seem to be calcium- and sodium-linked processes at work in the ionic contracture coupling of slow striated muscle.

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