The potential role of photorespiration in the protection against salt stress was examined with transgenic rice plants. Oryza sativa L. cv. Kinuhikari was transformed with a chloroplastic glutamine synthetase (GS2) gene from rice. Each transgenic rice plant line showed a different accumulation level of GS2. A transgenic plant line, G39-2, which accumulated about 1.5-fold more GS2 than the control plant, had an increased photorespiration capacity. In another line, G241-12, GS2 was almost lost and photorespiration activity could not be detected. Fluorescence quenching analysis revealed that photorespiration could prevent the over-reduction of electron transport systems. When exposed to 150 mM NaCl for 2 weeks, the control rice plants completely lost photosystem II activity, but G39-2 plants retained more than 90% activity after the 2-week treatment, whereas G241-12 plants lost these activities within one week. In the presence of isonicotinic acid hydrazide, an inhibitor of photorespiration, G39-2 showed the same salt tolerance as the control plants. The intracellular contents of NH4+ and Na+ in the stressed plants correlated well with the levels of GS2. Thus, the enhancement of photorespiration conferred resistance to salt in rice plants. Preliminary results suggest chilling tolerance in the transformant.