Over 200 strains of green algal flagellates, representing about 100 species, were examined for their suitability as experimental organisms for studies of flagellar activity. The cells of all species shed their flagella under unfavourable conditions of temperature or pH, or in the presence of alcohols, detergents or toxic agents of various kinds. For further studies of flagellar activity, motility and autotomy (biologically induced shedding) in particular, we selected four species of Chlamydomonas: C. dysosmos Moewus, C. moewusii Gerloff, C. monoica Strehlow and C. reinhardtii Dangeard. Agents found to inhibit motility without inducing death or flagellar autotomy included azide, arsenite, thiosulphate, cyanide, ferricyanide, hydroxylamine, chloral hydrate, malonate, p-chloro-mercury benzoate and cytochalasin-B, each in a limited range of concentrations which differed according to species and strain. Higher concentrations of these agents caused the flagella to be shed. Since flagellar autotomy is a means by which a cell can quickly reduce the area of its permeable surface, it may have a positive survival value for species liable to be subjected to unfavourable physicochemical conditions.