Dielectric breakdown of membranes of red blood cells was observed in high electric fields (approx. 10-3-10-4 V/cm) using an improved Coulter Counter with hydrodynamic focussing. In making measurements of the size distributions of red blood cells as a function of increasing electric field strength it was found that a sharp discontinuity occurred in the otherwise linear relation between the pulse heights in the Coulter Counter and the electric field strength due to dielectric breakdown of the membranes. Solution of Laplace's equation for the electric field generated at breakdown in the cell membranes yeilds a mean value of about 1.6 V. for the membrane potential of red blood cells. Due to the dielectric break-down, release of hemoglobin occurred. Mechanical rupture of the red blood cells by the hydrodynamic forces in the orifice of the Coulter Counter or thermal rupture could be excluded as hemolysing mechanisms. The leaky ghost cells resealed at 37 degrees C. as shown by incorporation of 131I-labeled albumin and repeated dielctric breakdown.