Two copies of structurally related genes (CAH1 and CAH2) for carbonic anhydrase (EC 18.104.22.168) were found to be tandemly clustered on the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii genome. The previously isolated cDNA clones for carbonic anhydrase polypeptides were derived from the upstream gene, CAH1, which has 10 introns in its coding region. The downstream gene, CAH2, also has 10 introns, at positions identical to those of CAH1. Although amino acid sequences deduced from the two genes showed 91.8% identity, partial sequences of the authentic enzyme isolated from air-induced cells were identical only to those of the CAH1 product. Northern hybridization using gene-specific probes showed that the level of 2.0-kilobase CAH1 mRNA increased in response to a decrease in CO2 concentration in the presence of light. The CAH1 mRNA did not accumulate when CO2 was lowered in the dark. In contrast, the level of 2.0-kilobase CAH2 mRNA decreased in response to lowering of CO2 and increased upon transfer to the high-CO2 condition in light. The decrease of CAH2 mRNA under the low-CO2 condition was not observed in the dark. The fully induced mRNA level was much higher for CAH1 than for CAH2. These results indicate that CAH1 is a gene coding for the major periplasmic carbonic anhydrase whose level of transcript is rapidly induced under the low-CO2 condition in the presence of light, and that CAH2 may encode another periplasmic isozyme, which is made under the high-CO2 condition.