Certain Chlamydomonas reinhardtii mutants deficient in photosystem I due to defects in psaA mRNA maturation have been reported to be capable of CO2 fixation, H2 photoevolution, and photoautotrophic growth (Greenbaum, E., Lee, J. W., Tevault, C. V., Blankinship, S. L. , and Mets, L. J. (1995) Nature 376, 438-441 and Lee, J. W., Tevault, C. V., Owens, T. G.; Greenbaum, E. (1996) Science 273, 364-367). We have generated deletions of photosystem I core subunits in both wild type and these mutant strains and have analyzed their abilities to grow photoautotrophically, to fix CO2, and to photoevolve O2 or H2 (using mass spectrometry) as well as their photosystem I content (using immunological and spectroscopic analyses). We find no instance of a strain that can perform photosynthesis in the absence of photosystem I. The F8 strain harbored a small amount of photosystem I, and it could fix CO2 and grow slowly, but it lost these abilities after deletion of either psaA or psaC; these activities could be restored to the F8-psaADelta mutant by reintroduction of psaA. We observed limited O2 photoevolution in mutants lacking photosystem I; use of 18O2 indicated that this O2 evolution is coupled to O2 uptake (i.e. respiration) rather than CO2 fixation or H2 evolution. We conclude that the reported instances of CO2 fixation, H2 photoevolution, and photoautotrophic growth of photosystem I-deficient mutants result from the presence of unrecognized photosystem I.