Reinke's space is not a space at all. It is actually one of the five layers of the vocal folds. The layers, from surface to deep, are:
- The epithelium
- The superficial layer of the lamina propria AKA Reinke's Space
- The intermediate layer of the lamina propria (elastic fibers)
- The deep layer of the lamina propria (collagenous fibers)
- The thyroarytenoid muscle.
Reinke's space is highly pliable, often described as "jelly-like". They are the most flexible of the layers of the vocal folds. In the cover-body model of the vocal folds Reinke's space and the epithelium are the cover. In the current understanding of the myoelastic-aerodynamic theory of phonation the cover, consisting primarily of Reinke's space, is one of the three bodies that interact to make the complex vocal qualities that make up the human voice. The cover, the lower lamina propria, and the thyroarytenoid vibrate at different rates to form a complex wave. The vibration of the cover, however, is responsible for the fundamental frequency of the human voice.
Swelling of Reinke's space is known as Reinke's edema; it results in a lowering of the fundamental frequency of the voice, and increases the subglottal pressure necessary for for phonation.