Using metabolic and transcriptomic phenotyping, we studied acclimation of cyanobacteria to low inorganic carbon (LC) conditions and the requirements for coordinated alteration of metabolism and gene expression. To analyse possible metabolic signals for LC sensing and compensating reactions, the carboxysome-less mutant ΔccmM and the photorespiratory mutant ΔglcD1/D2 were compared with wild-type (WT) Synechocystis. Metabolic phenotyping revealed accumulation of 2-phosphoglycolate (2PG) in ΔccmM and of glycolate in ΔglcD1/D2 in LC- but also in high inorganic carbon (HC)-grown mutant cells. The accumulation of photorespiratory metabolites provided evidence for the oxygenase activity of RubisCO at HC. The global gene expression patterns of HC-grown ΔccmM and ΔglcD1/D2 showed differential expression of many genes involved in photosynthesis, high-light stress and N assimilation. In contrast, the transcripts of LC-specific genes, such as those for inorganic carbon transporters and components of the carbon-concentrating mechanism (CCM), remained unchanged in HC cells. After a shift to LC, ΔglcD1/D2 and WT cells displayed induction of many of the LC-inducible genes, whereas ΔccmM lacked similar changes in expression. From the coincidence of the presence of 2PG in ΔccmM without CCM induction and of glycolate in ΔglcD1/D2 with CCM induction, we regard a direct role for 2PG as a metabolic signal for the induction of CCM during LC acclimation as less likely. Instead, our data suggest a potential role for glycolate as a signal molecule for enhanced expression of CCM genes.