1. Methods are described for the morphometric estimation of parameters of the gill system of trout which are relevant to its function in gas exchange. The methods have been used with 1 mum sections viewed under the light microscope. 2. In particular the diffusion distances between water and blood are measured, which together with determinations of gill area, provide figures for the morphometrically estimated diffusing capacity. 3. The methods have been used to compare the diffusing capacity of gills from control fish and those treated in polluted waters. The concept of relative diffusing capacity (Drel) is introduced which enables comparisons to be made without the need to determine the absolute diffusing capacity. 4. Quantitative estimation of changes in relative volumes and surface areas of components of the secondary lamellae were determined, and employed to explain the possible anatomical causes of changes in Drel. 5. It is suggested that these methods can be of value in the comparison of the gills of fish treated in different waters.

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