The biosynthesis of ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase (RUBISCO) provides a model system for studying the coordination of nuclear and organelle gene expression, since this abundantly transcribed and expressed chloroplast enzyme is composed of small (SS) and large subunits (LS) encoded by a nuclear multigene family and a single chloroplast gene, respectively. We have tested the possibility that SS mRNA or protein levels affect LS mRNA amounts or LS protein production and accumulation. We find that expression of antisense DNA sequences for the SS in transgenic tobacco plants drastically reduces the accumulation of SS mRNA and SS protein. These changes are accompanied by corresponding reductions of LS protein but not LS mRNA amounts; accumulation of the LS protein appears to be regulated by translational and posttranslational factors. We also find that the transgenic plants display striking variations in growth that are correlated with antisense gene dosage.