The membrane potential and conductance of the giant muscle fiber of a barnacle (Balanus nubilus Darwin) were analyzed in relation to changes in the external (3.5–10.0) and the internal (4.7–9.6) pH, under various experimental conditions. A sharp increase in membrane conductance, associated with a large increase in conductance to Cl ions, was observed when the external pH was lowered to values below 5.0. The ratio of Cl to K conductance in normal barnacle saline is between ⅙–1/7 at pH 7.7, whereas at pH 4.0 the ratio is about 6–9. The behavior of the membrane in response to pH changes in a Cl-depleted muscle fiber shows that the K conductance decreases with decreasing external pH for the whole range of pH examined. A steep increase in Cl conductance is also observed when the internal pH of the fiber is lowered below 5.0. The K to Cl conductance ratio increases with increasing internal pH in a manner very similar to that found when the external pH is raised above 5.0. These facts suggest that the membrane is amphoteric with positive and negative fixed charge groups having dissociation constants such that at pH greater than 5, negative groups predominate and cations permeate more easily than anions, while at lower pH positive groups predominate, facilitating the passage of anions through the membrane.

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