The Thermobifida fusca cel6A gene encoding an endoglucanase was fused to three different downstream box (DB) regions to generate cel6A genes with 14 amino acid fusions. The DB-Cel6A fusions were inserted into the tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum cv. Samsun) chloroplast genome for protein expression. Accumulation of Cel6A protein in transformed tobacco leaves varied over approximately two orders of magnitude, dependent on the identity of the DB region fused to the cel6A open reading frame (ORF). Additionally, the DB region fused to the cel6A ORF affected the accumulation of Cel6A protein in aging leaves, with the most effective DB regions allowing for high level accumulation of Cel6A protein in young, mature, and old leaves, while Cel6A protein accumulation decreased with leaf age when less effective DB regions were fused to the cel6A ORF. In the most highly expressed DB-Cel6A construct, enzymatically active Cel6A protein accumulated at up to 10.7% of total soluble leaf protein (%TSP). The strategy used for high-level endoglucanase expression may be useful for expression of other cellulolytic enzymes in chloroplasts, ultimately leading to cost-effective heterologous enzyme production for cellulosic ethanol using transplastomic plants. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2009;102: 1045–1054. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.