Flaveria bidentis (L.) Kuntze, a C4 dicot, was genetically transformed with a construct encoding the mature form of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) carbonic anhydrase (CA) under the control of a strong constitutive promoter. Expression of the tobacco CA was detected in transformant whole-leaf and bundle-sheath cell (bsc) extracts by immunoblot analysis. Whole-leaf extracts from two CA-transformed lines demonstrated 10% to 50% more CA activity on a ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase-site basis than the extracts from transformed, nonexpressing control plants, whereas 3 to 5 times more activity was measured in CA transformant bsc extracts. This increased CA activity resulted in plants with moderately reduced rates of CO2 assimilation (A) and an appreciable increase in C isotope discrimination compared with the controls. With increasing O2 concentrations up to 40% (v/v), a greater inhibition of A was found for transformants than for wild-type plants; however, the quantum yield of photosystem II did not differ appreciably between these two groups over the O2 levels tested. The quantum yield of photosystem II-to-A ratio suggested that at higher O2 concentrations, the transformants had increased rates of photorespiration. Thus, the expression of active tobacco CA in the cytosol of F. bidentis bsc and mesophyll cells perturbed the C4 CO2-concentrating mechanism by increasing the permeability of the bsc to inorganic C and, thereby, decreasing the availability of CO2 for photosynthetic assimilation by ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase.