The structure and distribution of cartilages has been studied in 45 species from 24 families. The resulting data have been used as a basis for establishing a new classification. A cartilage is regarded as 'cell-rich' if its cells or their lacunae occupy more than half of the tissue volume. Five classes of cell-rich cartilage are recognised (a) hyaline-cell cartilage (common in the lips of bottom-dwelling cyprinids) and its subtypes fibro/hyaline-cell cartilage, elastic/hyaline-cell cartilage and lipo/hyaline-cell cartilage, (b) Schaffer's Zellknorpel, typified by the cartilage in the gill filaments of most teleosts examined, (c) elastic/cell-rich cartilage, such as that which supports the barbels and oral valves of catfish, e.g. Corydoras metae, (d) fibro/cell-rich cartilage, as in the submaxillary meniscus of Sphaerichthys osphromenoides, (e) cell-rich hyaline and (f) matrix-rich hyaline cartilage--both of which are common in the neurocranium and gill arches of most teleosts. The range of cartilages seen, and the predominant cartilage type, is recorded for each species and a list is provided of the tissues that most typify different organs or regions of the head. As a preliminary pointer to developmental relationships between the cartilages, note was taken of gradual transitions between one cartilage and another. It is suggested that hyaline-cell cartilage occupies a key position in teleosts as the most labile of the supporting tissues and is highly characteristic of Cypriniformes. The cartilage that best resembles mammalian hyaline cartilage (matrix-rich hyaline cartilage) has a very conservative distribution in different skeletal elements and the least number of associations with other tissues. It is well represented in Siluriformes.
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