High-voltage electron microscopy at 1,500 kV was used to examine mitochondrial morphology in three skeletal muscles of the rat. The soleus, deep portion of the vastus lateralis, and superficial portion of the vastus lateralis muscles were examined to represent slow-twitch oxidative, fast-twitch oxidative, glycolytic, and fast-twitch glycolytic skeletal muscle fiber types, respectively. Muscle samples were removed from six female Wistar rats. The tissues were fixed using standard electron microscopic techniques and were sectioned transversely with respect to muscle fiber orientation to approximately 0.5-micron thickness. The sections were stained on grids with uranyl acetate and Reynolds' lead citrate. Results revealed a mitochondrial reticulum in all three skeletal muscle fiber types. Stereological analyses of the electron micrographs were performed to measure volume densities and surface-to-volume ratios of mitochondria in the muscle samples. Cross-sectional volume densities of mitochondria in the soleus (15.5 +/- 1%) and deep portion of the vastus lateralis (16.1 +/- 2%) were significantly greater (P less than 0.05) than in the superficial portion of the vastus lateralis (8.7 +/- 1%). Surface-to-volume ratios of mitochondria were not significantly different between fiber types. It was concluded that the mitochondria in mammalian limb skeletal muscle are a reticulum, or network.