1. The relative isometric tension-pCa relationship has been determined for isolated bundles of barnacle myofibrils under a variety of ionic conditions using [Ca(2+)]-buffered solutions which also contained an ATP regenerating system (creatine phosphate and creatine kinase).2. The results are in better agreement with the ;consecutive' scheme of reaction rather than with the ;independent' alternative (Ashley & Moisescu, 1972) for the co-operative action of two Ca(2+) ions in the process of tension activation in crustacean skeletal muscle.3. Variations in the pH of the activating solutions did have a marked effect on the relative tension-Ca curve, although no effect was observed on the absolute maximum value for isometric tension. A shift in pH by 0.5 u. in the range 6.6-7.6 shifted the Ca(2+)-activation curve by 0.5 log u. towards lower free Ca(2+) concentrations.4. Changes in the free Mg(2+) concentration of the activating solutions in the millimolar range produced a pronounced shift of the relative tension-pCa curve along the pCa axis. Increasing [Mg(2+)] from 1 to 5 mM shifted the curve by about 0.7 log u. to higher free Ca(2+) concentrations, without significantly modifying its steepness.5. Changes in the MgATP concentration of the activating solutions in the range of 1-13 mM had no significant effect on the relative tension-pCa relationship.6. Varying the K(+) concentration in the activating solutions was also observed to have a marked effect upon the tension-pCa relationship in barnacle. An increase in the K(+) concentration from 90 to 170 mM shifted the curve by some 0.6 log u. towards higher free Ca(2+) concentrations.7. Cooling the standard activating solutions from room temperature to +4 degrees C made no apparent difference to the relative tension-pCa relationship, but decreased significantly the absolute tension responses.8. The results presented show that tonicity by itself has a marked effect upon the absolute steady-state tension levels in isolated bundles of myofibrils.9. Maximum isometric tension in this preparation was not simply related to ionic strength, or to the monovalent cation concentration, but it depended, as well, upon the anionic composition of the activating solution. In addition, a change in ionic strength of 25 mM over the range of 245-270 mM did not appear to modify the relative tension-pCa relationship.10. The effect of the physiologically occurring cations H(+), K(+), Mg(2+) upon the relative isometric tension-pCa relationship can be accounted for on the basis of a model of competitive inhibition between these cations and Ca(2+) for the functional unit for tension. This inhibitory effect appears to involve at least one H(+), one Mg(2+) and two K(+) per each Ca(2+) ion participating in the activation process of the functional unit for tension.