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The lipid histochemistry of the scale and hinge epidermis of the chequered water snake, Natrix piscator, throughout the sloughing cycle, has been described. The presence of comparatively high concentrations of phospholipids in the mesos layer and a-layer, in comparison to neutral lipids, has been associated with a permeability barrier to transcutaneous water flux. Free fatty acids, present in almost all epidermal layers and in eosinophilic granular cells, may protect the epidermis from bacterial and fungal attacks. Cholesterol, in addition to phospholipids, in various keratinized layers, is assumed to be derived from membranous structures of epidermal cells and is regarded as a stabilizer of the phospholipids in membranes.