Dolipore septa and septal pore caps (SPCs) in filamentous basidiomycetes may play an important role in maintaining the integrity of hypal cells. We have investigated the ultrastructure of the dolipore septum and the SPC in Rhizoctonia solani hyphal cells after high-pressure freezing, freeze substitution, and Spurr embedding. We visualized the SPC with associated cell ultrastructures in three dimensions by automated electron tomography of thick-sectioned cells, followed by 3D tomographic reconstructions. Using these methods we were able to document the passage of mitochondria through the SPC, small tubular membranous structures at the entrance of the septal pore channel, filamentous structures connecting the inner side of the SPC with pore-plugging material, thin filaments anchoring the pore-plugging material with the plasma membrane, small vesicles attached to the plugging material, and tubular endoplasmic reticulum continuous with the base of the SPC. We hypothesize that the SPC, the filamentous structures, the plugging material, and the endoplasmic reticulum act in a coordinated fashion to maintain cellular integrity, intercellular communication, and the transport of solutes and cell organelles in the filamentous fungus R. solani. (C) 2000 Academic Press.