Acclimation of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to limiting environmental CO2 induced specific protein phosphorylation at the surface of photosynthetic thylakoid membranes. Four phosphopeptides were identified and sequenced by nanospray quadrupole TOF MS from the cells acclimating to limiting CO2. One phosphopeptide originated from a protein that has not been annotated. We found that this unknown expressed protein (UEP) was encoded in the genome of C. reinhardtii. Three other phosphorylated peptides belonged to Lci5 protein encoded by the low-CO2-inducible gene 5 (lci5). The phosphorylation sites were mapped in the tandem repeats of Lci5 ensuring phosphorylation of four serine and three threonine residues in the protein. Immunoblotting with Lci5-specific antibodies revealed that Lci5 was localized in chloroplast and confined to the stromal side of the thylakoid membranes. Phosphorylation of Lci5 and UEP occurred strictly at limiting CO2; it required reduction of electron carriers in the thylakoid membrane, but was not induced by light. Both proteins were phosphorylated in the low-CO2-exposed algal mutant deficient in the light-activated protein kinase Stt7. Phosphorylation of previously unknown basic proteins UEP and Lci5 by specific redox-dependent protein kinase(s) in the photosynthetic membranes reveals the early response of green algae to limitation in the environmental inorganic carbon.