The regulation by photorespiration of the transcript level corresponding to plastidic glutamine synthetase (GS-2) was investigated in the leaves of Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh.. Photorespiration was suppressed by growing the plants in an atmosphere containing 300 Pa CO2. Suppression of photorespiration was demonstrated by the ability of the conditionally lethal serine hydroxymethyltransferase (SHMT)-deficient stm mutant of A. thaliana to grown normally under these conditions. In contrast to previous studies with bean or pea that were performed at very high CO2 partial pressure (2-4 kPa; Edwards and Coruzzi, 1989, Plant Cell 1:241-248; Cock et al., 1991, Plant Mol Biol 17: 761-771), suppression of photorespiration during growth of A. thaliana in an atmosphere with 300 Pa CO2 had no effect of the leaf GS-2 transcript level. In the short term, neither suppression of photorespiration induced by the transfer of air-grown A. thaliana plants into a CO2-enriched atmosphere, nor an increase in the rate of photorespiration achieved by the transfer of high-CO2-grown A. thaliana plants into air resulted in a change in the GS-2 mRNA level. The absence of photorespiratory ammonium release in leaves of the stm mutant had no effect on the GS-2 transcript level. Overall, our data argue against a control by photorespiration of the A. thaliana leaf GS-2 mRNA pool. In contrast, regulation of the leaf SHMT mRNA level may involve a negative feedback effect of at least one metabolite derived from the glycine/serine conversion during photorespiration, as indicated by the overexpression of SHMT transcripts in the leaves of the stm mutant.