To determine whether chloroplast RNA polymerase will accurately terminate transcription in vitro, we have fused the spinach chloroplast rbcL promoter to the 3' end of the rbcL gene as well as to various factor independent transcription terminators from E. coli. Transcription of the rbcL minigene did not result in production of the expected 265 nucleotide RNA. However, the spinach chloroplast RNA polymerase did terminate transcription with varying efficiency at the thra, rrnB, rrnC and gene 32 terminators. The most efficient transcription termination was observed for the threonine attenuator. For each of the prokaryotic terminators, the chloroplast enzyme ceased transcription at essentially the same position as the E. coli RNA polymerase. These data indicate that the transcription termination process in chloroplasts has some features in common with the mechanism used in prokaryotes.