Stacking of thylakoid membranes in vitro was assessed using electron microscopy. Grana stacks of spinach thylakoids formed when 5 mol m-3 MgCl2 was present, but no stacking of thylakoids from the mangrove Avicennia marina occurred in the presence of 10 mol m-3 ? MgCl2 . Isolation of mangrove thylakoids with a high osmotic strength medium did not induce grana formation if the medium consisted only of sorbitol or glycinebetaine. Addition of cations to the high osmotic strength medium did induce some loose-grana formation, with divalent cations being more effective than monovalent cations. Glycinebetaine was a better osmoticum than sorbitol for grana formation provided divalent cations had been added. Oxygen evolution activity of the preparations was influenced by the amount of membrane stacking, with the preparations with the greatest amount of stacked membrane having the highest activity. Isolation with sorbitol or glycinebetaine based media did not alter this pattern, nor did assay in sorbitol or glycinebetaine. Mangrove thylakoids have a requirement for both a high osmotic strength and divalent cations for grana formation in vitro which may be related to the low water potential of the plant environment in vivo.