A study was made of the extent to which the lateral surfaces contribute to the surface area of five kaolinites of different crystallinities. Methods used included the low-temperature adsorption of N2 and Ar as measured by a volumetric technique coupled with microcalorimetry, the interpretation of the adsorption isotherms of alkyldodecylammonium ions, particle-size distribution curves, and shadowed transmission electron microscopy. With the exception of surfactant adsorption and adsorption calorimetry using Ar, these methods gave different and debatable results. For instance, specific lateral surface area values expressed as a percentage of total specific surface area varied from 17·0 to 40·4% for the most crystalline sample and from 12·0 to 54·3% for the least crystalline. It is shown that the decrease in crystallinity of samples is accompanied by a reduction in crystallite size from 0·8 to 0·08 µm and a decrease in lateral surface area from 34·0 to 12·0%.