Overexpression of phytochrome A results in an increased inhibition of hypocotyl elongation under red and far-red light. We used this approach to assay for the function of N-terminal mutations of rice (Oryza sativa L.) phytochrome A. Transgenic tobacco seedlings that express the wild-type rice phytochrome A (RW), a rice phytochrome A lacking the first 80 amino acids (NTD) or a rice phytochrome A with a conversion of the first 10 serines into alanine residues (S/A) were compared with untransformed wild-type tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L. cv. Xanthi) seedlings. Experiments under different fluence rates showed that RW and, even more strongly, S/A increased the response under both red and far-red light, whereas NTD decreased the response under far-red light but hardly altered the response under red light. These results indicate that NTD not only lacks residues essential for an increased response under red light but also distorts the wild-type response under far-red light. Wild-type rice phytochrome A and, even more so, S/A mediate an enhanced phytochrome A as well as phytochrome B function, whereas NTD interferes with the function of endogenous tobacco phytochrome A as well as that of rice phytochrome A when co-expressed in a single host. Experiments with seedlings of different ages and various times of irradiation under far-red light demonstrated that the effect of NTD is dependent on the stage of development. Our results suggest that the lack of the first 80 amino acids still allows a rice phytochrome A to interact with the phytochrome transduction pathway, albeit non-productively in tobacco seedlings.