Many efforts are underway to engineer improvements in photosynthesis to meet the challenges of increasing demands for food and fuel in rapidly changing environmental conditions. Various transgenes have been introduced into either the nuclear or plastid genomes in attempts to increase photosynthetic efficiency. We examine the current knowledge of the critical features that affect levels of expression of plastid transgenes and protein accumulation in transplastomic plants, such as promoters, 5' and 3' untranslated regions, RNA-processing sites, translation signals and amino acid sequences that affect protein turnover. We review the prior attempts to manipulate the properties of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase oxygenase (Rubisco) through plastid transformation. We illustrate how plastid operons could be created for expression of the multiple genes needed to introduce new pathways or enzymes to enhance photosynthetic rates or reduce photorespiration. We describe here the past accomplishments and future prospects for manipulating plant enzymes and pathways to enhance carbon assimilation through plastid transformation.