The preparation of biological tissues for electron microscopy by rapid freezing retains the original localization of ions and molecules. A reproducible freezing regime was established by quenching tissues in liquid propane according to the method of Elder et al. (1981). Tissue was thereafter freeze dried in a custom built freeze drying device with a liquid nitrogen cooled stage to prevent ice recrystallization during drying. The device was also designed to allow the vacuum embedding of tissue in low temperature resin such as Lowicryl and polymerization in situ. This paper describes the design of the device and an example of its use in the freeze drying of cartilage. The results show that minimal ice damage occurs to the chondrocytes and that intracellular organelles are clearly visible. The regime described may prove a useful and pragmatic alternative to cutting tissue in the frozen state. Translocation of elements is unlikely except perhaps in the case of very labile elements such as Na and K, but this remains to be fully elucidated.