K+ and Cl− contents of guard cells and of ordinary epidermal cells were determined in epidermal samples of Allium cepa L. by electron probe microanalysis; malate contents of the same samples were determined by enzymic oxidation. KCl was, in general, the major osmoticum in guard cells, irrespective of whether stomata had opened on leaves or in epidermal strips floating on solutions. The solute requirement varied between 50 and 110 femtomoles KCl per micrometer increase in aperture per pair of guard cells. Stomata did not open on solutions of K iminodiacetate, presumably because its anion could not be taken up. Stomata opened if KCl or KBr was provided. Taken together, the results indicate that the absence of starch from guard cells deprived them of the ability to produce malate in amounts of osmotic consequence and that the presence of absorbable Cl− (or Br−) was necessary for stomatal opening.