Summary: The absorption spectra of talc, saponite, and hectorite between 4000 and 400 cm. −1 are closely related, although the bands of the smectites are more diffuse as a result of isomorphous substitutions in the tale structure. Using oriented specimens, vibrations in which the change of dipole moment is perpendicular to the sheets of the minerals are identified, and the results compared with theoretical predictions. Three bands arising from the stretching vibrations of interlayer water molecules in the smectites are distinguished, one of which corresponds to a very weak hydrogen bond. Spectral changes arising from vigorous grinding are discussed.