Aspects of osmotic properties of liposomes, prepared from synthetic lecithin, above, at and below the gel to liquid crystalline phase transition temperature are described. The experiments show that liposomal membranes with their lipids in the gel state are still permeable to water. The rate of water permeation changes drastically on passing the transition temperature. The water permeation has activation energies of 9.5 +/- 1.28 and 26.4 +/- 0.9 kcal/mol above and below the transition temperature, respectively, indicating that the diffusion processes take place by different mechanisms. With respect to the barrier properties of the liposomes in the vicinity of the transition temperature, the following conclusions can be made. (1) Studying the osmotic shrinkage of liposomes at a fixed temperature near the transition point, the experiments indicate that dimyristoyl phosphatidylcholine membranes are highly permeable to glucose under these conditions, where liquid and solid domains co-exist. Under the same conditions the osmotic experiments did not indicate a strong increase in glucose permeability of dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine membranes as compared to the situation above and below the transition temperature. (2) On the other hand, perturbations of the phase equilibrium by temperature varations resulted in a marked increase of the glucose permeation through dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine bilayers. Once a new phase equilibrium of liquid and solid regions is established the permeation rate of glucose is much less.