The petunia nuclear gene which encodes the chloroplast isozyme of superoxide dismutase, SOD-1, has been fused with an efficient rbcS promoter fragment and 3' flanking region and introduced into tobacco and tomato cells. Transformed plants carrying this chimeric gene have up to 50-fold the levels of SOD-1 which occur in wild-type plants. However, tobacco plants with 30- to 50-fold the normal SOD-1 activity do not exhibit resistance to the light-activated herbicide paraquat. Similarly, tomato plants with 2- to 4-fold increases in SOD-1 do not exhibit tolerance to photoinhibitory conditions known to increase superoxide levels (high light, low temperatures and low CO2 concentrations). Our data indicate that increasing the chloroplastic SOD level in a plant cell is not sufficient to reduce the toxicity of superoxide.