Transepithelial impedance of Madin-Darby canine kidney cell layers is measured by a new instrumental method, referred to as electric cell-substrate impedance sensing. In this method, cells are cultured on small evaporated gold electrodes, and the impedance is measured in the frequency range 20-50,000 Hz by a small probing current. A model for impedance analysis of epithelial cells measured by this method is developed. The model considers three different pathways for the current flowing from the electrode through the cell layer: (1) in through the basal and out through the apical membrane, (2) in through the lateral and out through the apical membrane, and (3) between the cells through the paracellular space. By comparing model calculation with experimental impedance data, several morphological and cellular parameters can be determined: (1) the resistivity of the cell layer, (2) the average distance between the basal cell surface and substratum, and (3) the capacitance of apical, basal, and lateral cell membranes. This model is used to analyze impedance changes on removal of Ca2+ from confluent Mardin-Darby canine kidney cell layers. The method shows that reduction of Ca2+ concentration causes junction resistance between cells to drop and the distance between the basal cell surface and substratum to increase.