A study has been made of the ionic relations of stomata of Aster tripolium L., a maritime halophyte which colonizes coastal saltmarshes. The results obtained allow us to add this species to the growing list for which an involvement of K+ transport in stomatal movements has been demonstrated. However, an additional and ecologically important characteristic was found: there was a suppression of stomatal opening by increasing NaCl concentrations. A new hypothesis is offered of the mechanism for controlling salt and water relations in A. tripolium, a species which does not possess glands or other means of excreting salt. It is suggested that when the capacity of the tissues to accumulate salt in cell vacuoles is exceeded, the concentration of Na+ ions in the apoplast around the guard cells begins to rise. This causes partial stomatal closure, reduces transpiration and increases water-use-efficiency. Therefore, the flow of salt into the leaves is reduced but growth (and the manufacture of the new photosynthates required to support it) can continue. Aster tripolium can be added to the small list of known species which readily yield isolated epidermis suitable for detailed stomatal studies. Throughout this study, we have compared its stomatal physiology with C. communis, which has been thoroughly investigated in the past.