If the space constant of the T-system (lambdaT) its not large in comparison with the radius (a) of a muscle fibre, different levels of depolarization should activate different proportions of the cross-section. This possibility was tested in isolated muscle fibres with isotonic and isometric K contractures. 2. During isonic contractures with more than 40 mM-K, wavy myofibrils appeared in the centre of the fibre. The sarcomere spacings (s) of the wavy myofibrils, measured parallel to the long axis of the myofibrils, were 1-9-1-95 mum. However, the superficial myofibrils could shorten to or below s=1-5 mum without becoming wavy. 3. In the same muscle fibre where myofibrils became wavy during K contractures, no waviness appeared during repetitive electric stimulation in normal Ringer (50 shocks/sec, 12 degrees C), although s decreased below 1-5 mum. Wavy myofibrils were interpreted as not activated. 4. With isometric contractures it was found that the amount of depolarization needed to obtain maximal tension was smaller for fibres of shorter radius. The degree of depolarization for producing maximal tension is related to a by 6 mV/10mum. 5. These results strongly suggest that in K contractures lambdaT is not large in comparison with a
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