The fine structure of fibrillar flight muscle of the mature adult beetle Tenebrio molitor is described. Although the very high frequency of contraction of fibrillar muscle has previously been in part accounted for as the result of mechanical specialization of the wing-bearing segment rather than of a correspondingly high rate of motor impulse supply, the problem of the nature of the pathway by which excitation is conducted into these large fibers remained. Therefore, particular attention has been given to the disposition and relationships of the plasma membrane and sarcoplasmic reticulum in this tissue. The invading tracheoles draw with them a sheath of plasma membrane from the surface to all depths in the fiber, and it is suggested that these sheaths, together with the extensive tubular arborisations arising from them, reduce the maximum plasma membrane-to-fibril distance from the radius of the fiber to a value of less than 2 µ. The evidence presented here confirms Veratti's contention that in fibrillar muscle the "reticulum" is associated with, though entirely distinct from the fibrils. Unlike other muscles so far examined, these flight muscle fibers contain a plasma membrane reticulum only, but it is possible that elsewhere the general "sarcoplasmic reticulum" includes a component derived from the plasma membrane, likewise acting as the pathway for inward conduction of excitation. Profiles of the internalised plasma membrane in Tenebrio showing the usual triple-layered 25-25-25 A organization are frequently seen, in sections, in close association with isolated vesicles (defined by "simple" 50 A membranes) which are here considered to represent, in vestigial form, the portion of the sarcoplasmic reticulum which in other types of muscle is complex and highly developed. Such associations, in Tenebrio, between these two dissimilar elements are here termed "dyads" and the possible morphological and functional homology between these and the "triads" of other types of fiber is considered.

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