Morphological study of the podia of the suspension feeding Amphiura filiformis and the deposit feeding Amphiura chiajei revealed sensory–secretory complexes in the podial epidermis, consisting of four cells, two secretory and two sensory. Large mucus cells were found in association, but not exclusively, with the sensory–secretory complexes. In A. filiformis, mucus cells stained positively for both acid and neutral mucopolysaccharides, while, in A. chiajei, these cells stained only for acid mucopolysaccharides. The surfaces of the arm podia in A. chiajei were relatively smooth, while the arm podia of A. filiformis bear papillae. The sensory–secretory complexes open through numerous paired pores, with each pair having an intervening cilium. Pores were restricted to the podial tip in A. chiajei, while in A. filiformis they are concentrated on the podial tip and on the papillae. Amphiura chiajei shows very little differentiation of the podia along the length of the arm. In A. filiformis, the distal podia have papillae throughout their entire length, with pores being found on the head region and the papillar tips. Here, the papillae are oriented in such a way (i.e. facing inward towards the ventral arm plate) as to increase the area of the filtering surface of the podium, serviced by the sticky secretions from the sensory–secretory complexes. The proximal podia are relatively simple in structure and are thought to function more in the transportation of mucus wrapped particles to the mouth rather than in their capture. The difference in structure of the podia and chemical composition of podial secretory cells are taken to reflect the difference in feeding styles of the two species.