We investigated carbon dioxide (CO(2)) exchange and its environmental response during two years with contrasting climate (2006 and 2007) in a cool-temperate mixed evergreen coniferous forest dominated by Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) and Japanese cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa). The study, which was conducted in a mountainous region of central Japan, used the eddy-covariance technique. Our results (crosschecked using the common u (*) approach and van Gorsel's alternative approach) showed that annual gross primary production (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (RE) were at least 6% higher in the dry year than in the wet year, whereas net ecosystem exchange (NEE) was similar in both years. Without soil water stress, strong light stress or seasonality of plant area index during most of the study period, the forest had high metabolic activity. GPP and RE differed greatly between the two years, especially in spring (April-May) and summer (July-September), respectively. The spring GPP difference (>20%) was influenced by different winter air temperatures and snow melt timing, which controlled photosynthetic capacity in spring, and by different spring light intensities. The annual NEE differed depending on the evaluation method used, but the mean 2-year NEE estimated by the u (*) threshold approach [-3.39 +/- 0.11 (SD) MgC ha(-1) year(-1)] appears more reasonable in comparison with results from other forests.