The behaviour in culture of dissociated epithelial cells from chick embryo pigmented retina epithelium (PRE), corneal epithelium (CE) and epidermis has been studied using time-lapse cinematography. The analysis concentrated on the contact behaviour of 60 previously isolated cells of each type during a 24 h period starting 3.5 h after the cells were plated out. During the period analysed the number of isolated cells in cultures of all three types gradually decreased as they became incorporated into islands and sheets of cells. However, there were significant differences in behaviour between the cell types during the establishment of these sheets and islands. In PRE cell cultures, islands of cells developed because, throughout the period of analysis, collisions involving previously isolated cells almost invariably resulted in the development of a stable contact. Once having established contact with another cell these cells rarely broke away again to become reisolated. In contrast the contacts formed between colliding CE and epidermal cells were, at least initially, much less stable and cells of both these types were frequently seen to break away and become reisolated after colliding with other cells. Sheets and islands of cells eventually developed in these cultures because the frequency with which isolated cells become reisolated decreased with increasing time in culture. The possible reasons underlying the different behaviour of PRE cells, when compared with that of CE and epidermal cells, are discussed. It is suggested that the decreasing tendency of isolated CE and epidermal cells to become reisolated may be related to the formation of desmosomes.

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