Ion concentration gradients adjacent to the surface of the anal papillae of larvae of the mosquito Aedes aegypti were measured using self-referencing ion-selective microelectrodes. The gradients were used to calculate estimates of ion fluxes into and out of the papillae. There was a net influx of Na+, Cl- and K+ from the bathing medium and a net efflux of acid and NH4+. No Ca2+ gradients were detectable. Na+ and Cl-influx occurred against a concentration gradient suggesting active transport. Although Na+, Cl- and NH4+gradients were uniform along the length of the papillae, the proximal regions of the papillae in vivo revealed significantly higher H+and K+ gradients compared with distal regions. The calculated ion fluxes at the papillae are sufficient for complete Na+,K+ and Cl- haemolymph replacement in ∼4 h with external ion concentrations of 5 mmol l-1. Ion gradients were also detected adjacent to the surface of isolated papillae; however, Na+and H+ gradients were higher, and Cl- gradients were lower relative to papillae in vivo. The results support previous findings that the anal papillae of mosquito larvae are important structures for ion regulation, and suggest that these structures may be used for the excretion of nitrogenous waste.