The sarcomere pattern and tension of isolated resting frog atrial trabeculae were continuously monitored. In the absence of any resting tension the sarcomere lengths varied with the diameter of the trabeculae. In over 75 % of the trabeculae the value exceeded 2.05 µm, the estimated in vivo length of the thin filaments, and it was never less than 1.89 µm. When the trabeculae were stretched the increase in length of the central undamaged portion could be completely accounted for by an increase in sarcomere length. The width of the A band was constant only at sarcomere lengths between 2.3 and 2.6 µm it decreased at smaller and increased at larger sarcomere lengths. A group of spontaneously active cells stretched the sarcomeres in cells in series to longer lengths than could be produced by passive tension applied to the ends of the trabeculae, but they did not influence the sarcomeres of adjacent cells. It is proposed that the connective tissue is a major factor in determining sarcomere length and that there are interactions between thick and thin filaments in resting muscles.

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