Abstract The dynamics of mitotic chromosome and interphase chromatin recondensation in living PK cells during their adaptation to hypotonic medium was studied. The recondensation process was found to be slowed down by the modification of plasma membrane with low concentrations of glutaraldehyde, while osmotic reactions of glutaraldehyde-treated cells remain unchanged. The effect of glutaraldehyde can be rapidly reversed by the addition of Ca 2+-ionophore A23187. Intracellular Ca 2+measurements show that the adaptation to hypotonic shock is accompanied by restoration of free Ca concentration, whereas the delay of chromatin condensation in glutaraldehyde-treated cells is paralleled by the decrease of Ca level. The mechanisms implying the role of low concentration of Ca 2+in chromatin compactization in vivoare discussed.