A set of Pennsylvanian coals from the North American coal basins, ranging in vitrinite reflectance from 0.65% to 1.75%, was examined, with special emphasis on the optical properties of pseudovitrinite. The results suggest that pseudovitrinite originates from the same material as telocollinite. Slits in the pseudovitrinite seem to have originated in situ due to low-temperature oxidation of woody material; their opening might have been facilitated by devolatilization during coalification. The dominant orientation of the slits is perpendicular to bedding. The intensity and orientation of the slits in pseudovitrinite could be important factors in predicting coalbed gas extraction from coal. ?? 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.