Ferredoxin-1 (Fed-1) mRNA is poorly translated in dark-treated tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) leaves, resulting in destabilization of Fed-1 mRNA and a differential light/dark accumulation of the mRNA. Insertion of nonsense codons within the Fed-1 coding sequence disrupts the light regulation of Fed-1 mRNA abundance. Here we show that the nonsense codon effect results primarily from lowering the Fed-1 mRNA stability in light-treated leaf tissue and in rapidly growing tobacco cell cultures, but not in dark-treated leaf tissue. These results suggest that nonsense codons trigger a decay pathway distinct from that seen for Fed-1 mRNA in the dark. We propose that nonsense-mediated decay of nonsense-containing Fed-1 mRNA occurs in light-treated leaves and in non-photosynthetic tobacco culture cells where Fed-1 mRNA is being actively translated.