The biosynthesis of the C5 building block of isoprenoids, isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP), proceeds in higher plants via two basically different pathways; in the cytosolic compartment sterols are formed via mevalonate (MVA), whereas in the plastids the isoprenoids are formed via the 1-deoxyxylulose 5-phosphate/2-C-methylerythritol 4-phosphate pathway (DOXP/MEP pathway). In the present investigation, we found for the Charophyceae, being close relatives to land plants, and in the original green flagellate Mesostignma virilde the same IPP biosynthesis pattern as in higher plants: sterols are formed via MVA, and the phytol-moiety of chlorophylls via the DOXP/MEP pathway. In contrast, representatives of four classes of the Chlorophyta (Chlorophyceae, Ulvophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae, Prasinophyceae) did not incorporate MVA into sterols or phytol. Instead, they incorporated [1-2H1]-1-deoxy-D-xylulose into phytol and sterols. The results indicate that the entire Chlorophyta lineage, which is well separated from the land plant/Charophyceae lineage, is devoid of the acetate/ MVA pathway and uses the DOXP/MEP pathway not only for plastidic, but also for cytosolic isoprenoid formation.