The integrated regulation of mRNA stability, processing and translation facilitates the expression of several chloroplast genes, particularly in response to changes in illumination. Nuclear and chloroplast-encoded factors that mediate the expression of specific chloroplast messages have been characterized from green algae and plants. Recent studies suggest that the chloroplast might have recruited eukaryotic proteins, which are usually found in the cytoplasm or the endoplasmic reticulum, to couple the level of photosynthetic activity to gene expression via translational activation. Consequently, elements required for translational initiation of chloroplast messages differ from their prokaryotic ancestors. These results suggest that chloroplast translational regulation is a hybrid between prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems.