This reaction proceeded in stages at 47 to 48/sup 0/C with a 3 percent solution of potassium permanganate in a 1 percent alkaline solution. The products were separated into groups and identified by gas-liquid chromatography. Small amounts of monocarboxylic acids were identified, with normal and branched chains, from acetic to lauric acid. Dicarboxylic acids were mainly of normal structure, or methyl substituted, from succinic to hexadecanedicarboxylic acid. No tricarboxylic acids were detected. For products of primary oxidation insoluble in acid media, a high content of C/sub 10/-C/sub 16/ acids was characteristic, and for the final degree of oxidation C/sub 11/-C/sub 18/ acids. The organic portion of shale consists of structural units, differing in mass and in stability to alkaline permanganate.