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A retarding potential technique has been employed in determining the velocity spread of electrons emerging through an aperture in the anode of a hollow cathode discharge device which is to serve as an electron source. Estimates of electron temperature for the sample stream emerging into a high‐vacuum drift space were inferred by assuming a Maxwellian distribution. Electron temperatures of ∼1 eV were obtained in this manner, and the assumption of a Maxwellian energy distribution was justified experimentally. Characteristics of the emergent beam are interpreted as being indicative of discharge properties. It was further found that the kinetic energy of the sample stream was consistently several electron‐volts greater than that corresponding to the total voltage applied across the arc.