Ribosomal subunits of Caldariella acidophila (max.growth temp., 90 degrees C) have been compared to subunits of Bacillus acidocaldarius (max. growth temp., 70 degrees C) and Escherichia coli (max. growth temp., 47 degrees C) with respect to (a) bihelical content of rRNA; (b) G . C content of bihelical domains and (c) tightness of rRNA-protein interactions. The principal results are as follows. Subunits of C. acidophilia ribosomes (Tm = 90-93 degrees C) exhibit considerable thermal tolerance over their B. acidocaldarius (Tm = 77 degrees C) and E. coli counterparts (Tm = 72 degrees C). Based on the "melting' hyperchromicities of the intact ribosomal subunits a 51-55% fraction of the nucleotides appears to participate in hydrogen-bonded base pairing regardless of ribosome source, whereas a larger fraction, 67-70%, appears to be involved in hydrogen bonding in the naked rRNA species. The G . C content of bihelical domains of both free and ribosome-bound rRNA increases with increasing thermophily; based on hyperchromicity dispersion spectra of intact subunits and free rRNA, the bihelical parts of C. acidophila rRNA are estimated to contain 63-64% G . C, compared to 58.5% G . C for B. acidocaldarius and 55% G . C for E. coli. The increment of ribosome Tm values with increasing thermophily is greater than the increase in Tm for the free rRNA, indicating that within ribosomes bihelical domains of the thermophile rRNA species are stabilized more efficiently than their mesophile counterparts by proteins or/ and other component(s). The efficiency of the rRNA-protein interactions in the mesophile and thermophile ribosomes has been probed by comparing the releases, with LiCl-urea, of the rRNA species from the corresponding ribosomal subunits stuck to a Celite column through their protein moiety; it has been established that the release of C. acidophila rRNA from the Celite-bound ribosomes occurs at salt-urea concentrations about 4-fold higher than those required to release rRNA from Celite-bound E. coli ribosomes. Compared to E. coli the C. acidophila 50 and 30 S ribosomal subunits are considerably less susceptible to treatment designed to promote ribosome unfolding through depletion of magnesium ions.