Most species of the genus Salsola (Chenopodiaceae) that have been examined exhibit C(4) photosynthesis in leaves. Four Salsola species from Central Asia were investigated in this study to determine the structural and functional relationships in photosynthesis of cotyledons compared to leaves, using anatomical (Kranz versus non-Kranz anatomy, chloroplast ultrastructure) and biochemical (activities of photosynthetic enzymes of the C(3) and C(4) pathways, (14)C labeling of primary photosynthesis products and (13)C/(12)C carbon isotope fractionation) criteria. The species included S. paulsenii from section Salsola, S. richteri from section Coccosalsola, S. laricina from section Caroxylon, and S. gemmascens from section Malpigipila. The results show that all four species have a C(4) type of photosynthesis in leaves with a Salsoloid type Kranz anatomy, whereas both C(3) and C(4) types of photosynthesis were found in cotyledons. S. paulsenii and S. richteri have NADP- (NADP-ME) C(4) type biochemistry with Salsoloid Kranz anatomy in both leaves and cotyledons. In S. laricina, both cotyledons and leaves have NAD-malic enzyme (NAD-ME) C(4) type photosynthesis; however, while the leaves have Salsoloid type Kranz anatomy, cotyledons have Atriplicoid type Kranz anatomy. In S. gemmascens, cotyledons exhibit C(3) type photosynthesis, while leaves perform NAD-ME type photosynthesis. Since the four species studied belong to different Salsola sections, this suggests that differences in photosynthetic types of leaves and cotyledons may be used as a basis or studies of the origin and evolution of C(4) photosynthesis in the family Chenopodiaceae.