© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. During the evolution of C4 photosynthesis, the intracellular location with most carbonic anhydrase (CA) activity has changed. In Flaveria, the loss of the sequence encoding a chloroplast transit peptide from an ancestral C3 CA ortholog confined the C4 isoform to the mesophyll cell cytosol. Recent studies indicate that sequence elements and histone modifications controlling the expression of C4-associated CAs were likely present in the C3 ancestral chromatin, enabling the evolution of the C4 pathway. Almost complete abolishment of maize CA activity yields no obvious phenotype at ambient CO2 levels. This contrasts with results for Flaveria CA mutants, and has opened discussion on the role of CA in the C4 carbon concentrating mechanism.