The effect of externally applied mechanical stress was investigated by thin section electron microscopy of the microvessels in the unaffected palmar fascia in the carpal tunnel syndrome and in patients with Dupuytren's contracture before and after application of a continuous elongation device. In the unaffected palmar fascia the microfilaments of the endothelial cells were connected to a few adherens junctions and focal contacts; stress fibres were absent. In the cord of Dupuytren's disease the microfilaments were increased in quantity. The length ratios of the connections with the lateral and basal cell membrane were significantly higher than in the control group and increased to an even greater extent in the continuously extended fascia. Stress fibres appeared in the endothelial cells of postcapillary venules in the nonextended cord and in the endothelium of both arterioles and venules after extension elongation. the numerous intermediate filaments and the rare microtubules remained unchanged in the endothelial cells of all palmar fasciae analysed. In the endothelial cells of the microvessels the mechanical stress applied from outside mainly affected the contractile component of the cytoskeleton.