We describe the development and application of a novel approach to high-resolution ultrastructural analysis of cells and tissues. It is based on the preparation of ultrathin frozen sections of fixed tissues, rinsing of the sections, followed by their embedding on the grid in a layer of vitrified ice, and direct observation with a cryoelectron microscope. Examination of smooth muscle, kidney and heart tissues showed that although no heavy metal staining was used, high-contrast images are obtained. Fine details of cytoplasmic filaments and organelles, membranes and membrane-associated structures, as well as connective-tissue elements are all visible. The new method is suitable for immunolabeling, including high resolution localization of specific molecules within the cytoplasm.

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