A thin band of reflecting platelets overlies the central parts of the light and dark stripes found on each side of the dorsal surfaces of the body of the mackerel (Scomber scombrus L.). When this fish has its antero–posterior axis horizontal and its mid–dorsal and mid–ventral lines in the same vertical plane, V, the surfaces of the reflecting platelets in these bands are within a few degrees of being vertical. These surfaces are, however, tipped about 17° from plane V towards the tail. In the angular distributions of radiance commonly found in the sea, the reflections from these bands can mask parts of the pattern of light and dark stripes seen by neighbours in ways that depend on the orientation of the fish in the external light field and the position of the fish relative to its neighbours. With this arrangement, when the fish changes its orientation and/or its velocity with respect to neighbouring fish, this is signalled to the neighbours as changes in the patterns of brightness of its dorsal surfaces. Relatively small changes in roll, pitch and yaw can produce large changes in appearance and, as vision is a most important sense in the mackerel, it seems likely that these changes are important for signalling.