There has previously been some dispute over the source of the light of Heteroteuthis. Light and electron microscopy have shown that there are no bacteria in the cavity of the luminous gland, but rather a population of spherical vesicles of varying size and content, surrounded by dense interstitial material. The contents are secreted by the cells surrounding the gland via a microvillous brush border that contains cilia. The gland is surrounded by a reflector layer made up of iridophores, whose structure differs considerably in the proximal, lateral and cap regions.
The ink sac contains masses of spherical dense granules and its wall cells have many microvilli extending amongst these granules.