Abstract A comprehensive investigation has been made into the effects of raising medium strength on the growth and division of HeLa and other cell lines in tissue culture. Tonicity was raised by addition of concentrated solutions of NaCl, KCl, CaCl 2, choline chloride etc., and of substances such as urea, raffinose and glucose. It was established that osmotic effects were particularly important in arresting cells in metaphase, but some ions, e.g. K + and Mg 2+, more actively arrested metaphase than could be accounted for by osmotic effects alone. Some substances, particularly NaCl, allowed cells to progress into mitosis at concentrations which were adequate to prevent their exit from metaphase whereas other substances, such as MgCl 2, inhibited both entry into and exit from mitosis at about the same tonicity. Arrest of metaphases in hypertonic medium was not due to interference with the production of spindle but might have been attributable to excessive stickiness of the over-condensed chromosomes. Cells exposed to NaCl-supplemented medium exhibit a concentration dependent inhibition of macromolecular synthesis, protein synthesis being most affected, DNA synthesis less so and RNA synthesis least, except at slightly elevated tonicities which often produced a slight stimulation of the rate of synthetic activity.