Responses of the rate of net CO2 assimilation (A) to the intercellular partial pressure of CO2 (p i ) were measured on intact spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) leaves at different irradiances. These responses were analysed to find the value of p i at which the rate of photosynthetic CO2 uptake equalled that of photorespiratory CO2 evolution. At this CO2 partial pressure (denoted Г), net rate of CO2 assimilation was negative, indicating that there was non-photorespiratory CO2 evolution in the light. Hence Г was lower than the CO2 compensation point, Γ. Estimates of Г were obtained at leaf temperatures from 15 to 30°C, and the CO2/O2 specificity of ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP) carboxylase/oxygenase (E.C. 184.108.40.206) was calculated from these data, taking into account changes in CO2 and O2 solubilities with temperature. The CO2/O2 specificity decreased with increasing temperature. Therefore we concluded that temperature effects on the ratio of photorespiration to photosynthesis were not solely the consequence of differential effects of temperature on the solubilities of CO2 and O2. Our estimates of the CO2/O2 specificity of RuBP carboxylase/oxygenase are compared with in-vitro measurements by other authors. The rate of nonphotorespiratory CO2 evolution in the light (R d ) was obtained from the value of A at Г. At this low CO2 partial pressure, R d was always less than the rate of CO2 evolution in darkness and appeared to decrease with increasing irradiance. The decline was most marked up to about 100 μmol quanta m(-2) s(-1) and less marked at higher irradiances. At one particular irradiance, however, R d as a proportion of the rate of CO2 evolution in darkness was similar in different leaves and this proportion was unaffected by leaf temperature or by [O2] (ambient and greater). After conditions of high [CO2] and high irradiance for several hours, the rate of CO2 evolution in darkness increased and R d also increased.