Megakaryocytopoiesis occurs in the hematopoietic (extravascular) compartment of marrow. Thus, platelets must traverse the wall of the vascular sinuses of marrow to enter the circulation. We have examined mouse and rat marrow, fixed by rapid immersion so as to maintain anatomical relationships as close to the natural state as possible. Quantitative transmission electron microscopy (TEM) of random transections of femurs established that megakaryocytes reside less than 1 mu from a marrow sinus wall with a probability unlikely to be the result of chance (P less than 0.001). An intimate relationship exists between the megakaryocyte periphery and the abluminal surface of the endothelial lining cell. At the time of platelet release megakaryocyte cytoplasm invaginates and penetrates the endothelial lining cell. The penetrating cytoplasm is detached and enters the marrow circulation. From their dimensions in comparison to circulating platelets, the released cytoplasm represents a packet of platelets that undergoes further fragmentation in the circulation. The parasinusoidal location of megakaryocytes and the process of sinus-wall penetration and platelet delivery was observed by TEM and scanning electron microscopy. These studies provided quantitative support for a specific anatomical arrangement of megakaryocytes in marrow. Moreover, the process of platelet release appears to be a physiological form of metastasis with invasion of vascular walls and vascular spread of cells, that are in this case amitotic.