Structural changes were studied over time of a smooth muscle tissue (opossum esophagus circular muscle) exposed in various compartments of a functioning single sucrose gap. The tissues in the Krebs-perfused compartment were qualitatively normal, possessing nerve profiles with little damage, normal appearing smooth muscle and interstitial cells of Cajal as well as gap junctions between muscle cells and interstitial cells. However, in the sucrose compartment tissues had serious damage to smooth muscle, interstitial cells and nerves, and normal gap junctions disappeared. There was also damage to all these structures in tissues exposed to KCl, but most striking was the disappearance of most interstitial cells. These studies raise serious questions about the assumptions underlying the basis for functioning of multicellular tissues in the sucrose gap.