Containers constructed of polyvinylchloride (PVC) are used for the storage of platelet concentrates (PC) for transfusion, At 22 degrees C, pH often falls to such low levels (pH is less that 6.0) that viability is lost. Far lesser degrees of pH fall are observed in bags constructed of polyethylene (PE). In this study, pH, PO2, PCO2, platelet count, lactate concentration, microscopic morphology, and viability after 51- chromium labeling were evaluated during storage at 22 degrees C under a variety of circumstances. The results indicate that (1) pH falls because of the generation of lactic acid by platelet glycolysis and, under some circumstances, the retention of CO2. (2) Rate of pH fall is, therefore, roughly proportional to the platelet count. (3) PE is more permeable to gases, thereby allowing CO2 escape from and easier O2 entry into the stored PC; the higher O2 tensions suppress glycolysis by the Pasteur effect. (4) Adequate agitation and container size are critical if the beneficial effect of PE is to be obtained. (5) In general, platelets stored in PE containers have excellent viability in vivo although CO2 escape can result in elevations in pH which are deleterious. (6) Storage in a 10% CO2 atmosphere prevents these deletrrious pH elevations without otherwise impairing platelet viability; (7) Results similar to those achieved with PE can be achieved with PVC if this material is made thinner to allow easier penetration of gases.