Two hundred and eleven nitrate reductase-deficient mutants (NR-) were isolated from mutagenized Nicotiana plumbaginifolia protoplast cultures by chlorate selection and regenerated into plant. More than 40% of these clones were classified as cnx and presumed to be affected in the biosynthesis of the molybdenum cofactor, the remaining clones being classified as nia mutants. A genetic analysis of the regenerated plants confirmed this proportion of nia and cnx clones. All mutants regenerated were found to carry monogenic recessive mutations that impaired growth on nitrate as sole nitrogen source. Mutants propagated by grafting on N. tabacum systematically displayed a chlorotic leaf phenotype. This chlorosis was therefore related to the NR deficiency. The observation of leaves with NR- chlorotic sectors surrounded by NR+ wild-type tissues suggests that an NR deficiency is not corrected by diffusible factors. Periclinal chimeras between wild-type tobacco and the NR- graft were also observed. In this type of chimeric tissue chlorosis was no longer detectable when NR+ cells were in the secondmost (L2) layer, but was still detectable when NR- cells were in the secondmost layer. The genetic analysis of nia mutants revealed that they belong to a single complementation group. However three nia mutants were found to complement some of the other nia mutants. The apoenzyme of nitrate reductase was immunologically detected in several nia mutants but not in other members of this complementation group. Some of the nia mutants, although they were NR-, still displayed methylviologen-nitrate reductase activity at a high level. These data show that the nia complementation group corresponds to the structural gene of nitrate reductase. Some of the mutations affecting this structural gene result in the overproduction of an inactive nitrate reductase, suggesting a feedback regulation of the level of the apoenzyme in the wild type.