Giardia muris cysts were incubated briefly in an aqueous induction medium of 0.1 M potassium phosphate with 0.1, 0.2, or 0.3 M sodium bicarbonate. High rates of excystation (91.1-96.7%) were recorded within 5 min after the cysts were placed in trypticase-yeast extract-iron-serum (TYI-S) medium. Substitution of phosphate-buffered saline for TYI-S as the excystation medium resulted in high rates (95.9%) of excystation but required an incubation of 15 min. Excystation was inhibited by the presence of 4-4'-diisothiocyanatostilbene-2-2'-disulfonic acid (DIDS), a specific inhibitor of vacuolar and lysosomal acidification. Microscopic observation showed the loss of the peritrophic space and a change in the refractile nature of the cyst wall prior to excystation. Histochemical studies demonstrated a reaction product of acid phosphatase activity in the lysosomelike peripheral vacuoles in induced cysts and in the peritrophic space of cysts placed in excystation medium. Staining with acridine orange suggested that the peripheral vacuoles become acidified during induction. This staining was inhibited also by DIDS. These studies show that in vitro excystation can be produced at high rates by easily prepared media without exogenous enzymes, low pH, reducing agents, or complex components. The data also suggest that excystation may be stimulated by the bicarbonate-phosphate medium accompanied by acidification of the peripheral vacuoles and the release of their contents into the peritrophic space.