Multiple foliar specimens of the Late Pennsylvanian fossil pteridosperm [gymnosperm] Alethopteris zeilleri (Ragot) Wagner were collected from one restricted stratigraphical horizon in the Canadian Sydney Coalfield. Variability of functional-group distribution using FTIR technique was studied in compressions, adaxial versus abaxial cuticles, and in unseparated cuticles as a function of maceration time from 48 to 168??h. The results obtained document spectral variability that could be expected within specimens of one species. For example, CH2/CH3 and Al/ox ratios can differ by as much as 20% of the values. Moreover, the experiments performed confirm that by using a previously established maceration protocol, long maceration periods do not bias FTIR spectra in terms of oxygenation overprinting. The inference that this cuticle is robust, under the given diagenetic level, probably reflects a reassuring degree of chemical fidelity of the Pennsylvanian plant to support Carboniferous chemotaxonomic observations. ?? 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.