The mechanisms of hydrocortisone and adrenalin action on the structure and function of the lysosomal-vacuolar cell apparatus were studied in experiments on liver sections of Wistar rats. The sections were incubated in Krebs-Ringer bicarbonate buffer, pH 7.4 (95% O2 and 5% CO2) at 37 degrees C for 2 h. Hydrocortisone (10(-5) M) and adrenalin (10(-4) M), added to an incubation medium, were shown to produce a labilizing effect on lysosomal membranes, increasing free activity of acid phosphatase and cathepsin D and osmotic sensitivity of lysosomes. alpha-adrenergic blocker dihydroergotamine (3.4 x 10(-5) M) blocked an increase in free activity of acid phosphatase as a result of adrenalin action but did not eliminate hydrocortisone labilizing action. beta-adrenergic blocker propranolol (3 x 10(-4) M) lowered free activity indices and osmotic sensitivity of lysosomes to control values both in the presence of adrenalin and hydrocortisone. The labilization of lysosomal membranes in liver sections was also observed after adding dibutyril-cAMP (10(-8) M) or monobutyril-cGMP (10(-13)-10(-9) M) into the incubation medium.