The distribution spaces at equilibrium for 3H2O, [14C]urea and s-O-[14C]-methylglucose were measured in white fat cells using centrifugation through silicone oil at 2500 X g; no significant differences were observed. L-[14C]Glucose added immediately before the centrifugation was used as a marker for the extracellular water space. The calculated intracellular water content of the cells after the centrifugation through oil (e.g. 3H2O space minus L-[14C]glucose space) is an unbiased measure of the water content of the fat cells in suspension as judged by the following criteria: (1) The intracellular distribution space for 3-O-[14C]'methylglucose at equilibrium (methylglucose space minus L-glucose space) was not different from that calculated from a methylglucose wash-out curve. (2) The intracellular content of L-[14C]glucose (half time of efflux about 60 min) in cells preloaded during incubation of the tissue with collagenase was not different in cells recovered by (a) centrifugation through oil at 2500 X g, (b) centrifugation through oil at 600 X g, (c) centrifugation at 600 X g in the absence of oil and (d) filtration on Millipore filters. The intracellular content of water determined on cells from single rats weighing 120-150 g was 2.75 +/- 0.55 mul/100 mul fat cells (+/- S.D., n = 30). The intracellular content of potassium, determined on cells from the same rats, was 252 +/- 62 nmols/100 mul fat cells (+/- S.D., n = 30). The concentration of potassium in the intracellular water was calculated as 104 +/- 15 mM (+/- S.D., n = 30).