Cell dimensions have been measured from correctly indexed powder patterns of thirty natural and two synthetic orthopyroxenes. The natural specimens (mostly metamorphic) contain exsolved phases largely avoided during microprobe chemical analysis. Linear regression analysis between the cell dimensions and Mg, Al, Ca contents (ignoring minor elements) was quite unsatisfactory until a term in Mg2 was added. Two separate regression analyses for the ranges Mg 0–0·5 and 0·5–1 using only Mg, Al, and Ca were satisfactory. Olivine yielded satisfactory regressions for the whole range without a term in Mg2 (Louisnathan and Smith, 1968). The difference between olivine and pyroxene results from absence of site preference by Mg and Fe in olivine compared to strong preference in pyroxene revealed by electron density and Mössbauer studies (Bancroft, Burns, and Howie, 1967; Ghose and Hafner, 1967).
The data were recalculated by means of a new best-fit procedure developed by Hey in which the errors in the chemical and physical parameters are considered simultaneously.
Earlier measurements of a and b for plutonic pyroxenes are consistent within possible experimental uncertainties with those given here; however a and b data obtained by Kuno and by Hess on volcanic specimens are considerably higher by variable amounts. Although there are uncertainties in the Ca content and its effect on a and b, the larger dimensions probably result from lower site preference as indicated by Mössbauer studies.
Prediction of Mg, Ca, and Al from just the cell dimensions is only moderately accurate even for metamorphic orthopyroxenes.