[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this work, the effects of 1 mol/L glycerol or sorbitol on the thermal dependence (27-47 degrees C) of the lysis of human erythrocytes by ethanol in saline solution (0.154 mol/L NaCl) have been evaluated. Lysis was monitored by measurement of the absorbance at 540 nm. Ethanol produced either lysis or protection against lysis depending on the conditions. These antagonistic effects are attributed to the existence of expanded (R) and compacted (T) erythrocytes, present under conditions of low and high osmolarity, respectively. The transitions of lysis of the R state and formation and lysis of the T state were all found to be sigmoidally defined. The ethanol concentration at the midpoint of the lysis transition of the R state (D(50R)) was found to decrease with increasing temperature and osmolarity. In the presence of glycerol or sorbitol, an increase in temperature led to smaller decreases in D(50R) and osmotic protection against lysis. The ethanol concentration at the midpoint of formation (S(50T)) and lysis (D(50T)) of the T state also decreased with increasing temperature and osmolarity. Lysis of R state erythrocytes is determined by the chaotropic action of ethanol, but the formation and lysis of T state erythrocytes are determined by osmotic pressure effects.