In Synechococcus PCC7942 cells grown in the dark, the concentrations of NAD(H) and NADP(H) were 128+/-2.5 and 483+/-4.0 microm, respectively, while those in the cells under light conditions were 100+/-5.0 and 649+/-7.0 microm, respectively. Analysis of gel filtration indicated that the change of the ratio of NADP(H) to NAD(H) in cyanobacterial cells under light/dark conditions controls the reversible dissociation of the PRK/CP12/GAPDH complex (approximately 520 kDa) consisting of phosphoribulokinase (PRK), CP12, and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH). S. 7942 CP12 lacked the two Cys residues essential for formation of the N-terminal peptide loop in the CP12 of higher plants, but the N-terminal region of S. 7942 CP12 had the ability to be associated with PRK. The growth of mutant cells in which the CP12 gene was disrupted by a kanamycin resistance cartridge gene was almost the same as that of wild-type cells under continuous light conditions. However, under the light/dark cycle (12 h/12 h), the growth of CP12-disrupted mutant cells was significantly inhibited compared with that of wild-type cells. The mutant cells showed a decreased rate of O2 consumption and an increased level of ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate compared with wild-type cells in the dark. These data suggest that under light and dark conditions, the oligomerization of CP12 with PRK and GAPDH regulates the activities of both enzymes and thus the carbon flow from the Calvin cycle to the oxidative pentose phosphate cycle.