Unicellular cyanobacteria have attracted growing attention as potential host organisms for the production of valuable organic products and provide an ideal model to understand oxygenic photosynthesis and phototrophic metabolism. To obtain insight into the functional properties of phototrophic growth, we present a detailed reconstruction of the primary metabolic network of the autotrophic prokaryote Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. The reconstruction is based on multiple data sources and extensive manual curation and significantly extends currently available repositories of cyanobacterial metabolism. A systematic functional analysis, utilizing the framework of flux-balance analysis, allows the prediction of essential metabolic pathways and reactions and allows the identification of inconsistencies in the current annotation. As a counterintuitive result, our computational model indicates that photorespiration is beneficial to achieve optimal growth rates. The reconstruction process highlights several obstacles currently encountered in the context of large-scale reconstructions of metabolic networks.