This site is intended as a self-tutorial on the basics of histology, the study of tissues and cell types. Histology is in a very real sense "physiology made visible."



The main section contains practical study exercises. These were developed over many years of teaching in both veterinary and human medical schools. Many images of the material have already been embedded into the software, so that it serves as a sort of on-line histology textbook. In addition to the embedded images you'll find that the exercises make reference to "slide numbers" throughout their text. In order to view these slides you'll need to have a high-speed connection to the Internet.

A word about the origins and application of these exercises is in order. Because I taught so many years in veterinary schools a lot of the references (especially in the "Case Vignettes") are veterinary in nature, but that makes no difference in the context of human medicine. In the microscope everyone looks alike! The few species differences that exist and are discussed (principally in the ruminant and avian digestive system and the avian respiratory system) can be ignored if you're studying human medicine. Everything else is the same. In fact, nearly all of the slides used in teaching histology in medical schools use animal material, for a very simple reason: it's easy to get. Human tissue is very hard to obtain and when you do find it, it's almost always pathological or deteriorated by post-mortem change. Animal tissues can be collected properly and exemplify the structures far more accurately.


Pre-recorded lectures, essentially narrated Power Point presentations, are also available. Most of the exercises have embedded links to these videos. To view these you will need to have Flash video capability in your browser; if you don't have Flash, I highly recommend a free program called VLC Media Player, a free download. Clicking on the link will open the recordings and you will hear a voice-over as the slides change. Please note that some exercises have several recordings and others have none: I haven't forgotten them, it's just that for some subjects I never made any!

These videos vary in length. Some are short others fairly long; but they're big files, give them time to download to your computer!


The VM slides came from several sources. The first was a slide collection at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, where I taught histology for 29 years. For the last ten of those years I digitized many of the glass slides in the CVM teaching collection, converting them into "Virtual Microscope" format. Virtual Microscope (VM) in essence puts a "microscope" into your computer. It allows the user to change magnification, and to move from place to place on the slide, just as in a "real" microscope.

Many of the exercises contain a logo image of an antique microscope labeled with the words, "See It In The Virtual Microscope." Clicking on that image will get you access to the slides in the CVM collection. To view them you'll need to download the free program NDPView, which was used to create the VM slide files. Alternatively the Aperio Image Scope slide imaging software should work with these files. Aperio is also free.

Once you've downloaded and installed the viewing software of your choice, click the link, which will open a dialog box. In NDP View Log in as "Guest" and work your way through the links until you see a display of thumbnail images. The numbers of these images correspond to those in the exercises.

You can access the VM files directly using the link which connects you to the server at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

NOTE: If you are accessing the VM site through your browser and the links provided, you should be using Internet Explorer because Chrome, Safari, and most other browsers may create "tiled" images. This is due to incompatibility between NDPView and non-IE browsers; my apologies, but there is nothing I can do to correct it.


Throughout the exercise reference is made to slide numbers, those of the images in the two collections referenced above. Several different numbering schemes were used to assemble these collections, so there isn't really any rationality to the numbering "system," just use 'em as you find 'em. Both collections have search functions to permit you to find any slide number cited. Some slides you won't find, alas: the numbers for those came from a commercial on-line collection that's no longer available to the public. I gnash my teeth and wail when I think of this. I would tear out my hair if I had any left.