Mutant lines of Arabidopsis thaliana that are either blocked at various steps of the biosynthetic pathway of chlorophyll (Chl) or that are disturbed in one of the subsequent steps leading to the assembly of an active photosynthetic membrane were isolated by screening for Chl-deficient xantha (xan) mutants. Only mutants that segregated in a 3:1 ratio, that contained the same carotenoid spectrum as etiolated wild-type seedlings and less than 2% of the Chl of wild-type control seedlings, and whose Chl content was not affected by the addition of sucrose to the growth medium were selected for a more detailed analysis. As a final test for the classification of the selected mutants, light-grown xan mutants were vacuum-infiltrated and incubated with the common precursor of tetrapyrroles, delta-aminolevulinic acid (ALA), in the dark. Two major groups of mutants could be distinguished. Some of the mutants were blocked at various steps of the Chl pathway between ALA and protochlorophyllide (Pchlide) and did not accumulate the latter in the dark. The other mutants accumulated Pchlide in the dark regardless of whether exogenous ALA was added. This latter group could be subdivided into mutants with a biochemical lesion in a recently discovered second light-dependent Pchlide reduction step that occurs in green plants and mutants that have blocks in the assembly of Chl protein complexes. In the present work a total of seven different loci could be defined genetically in Arabidopsis that affect the synthesis of Chl and its integration into the growing photosynthetic membrane.