An understanding of the importance of metaphors and beliefs in the development of teachers' practical knowledge has already been explored in science education research. However, the significance of emotion metaphors and the consequences of emotional labor as part of being a science teacher have been little addressed. This study describes the findings from a 3-year ethnographic case study of an elementary-school teacher who participated in a research project investigating the role of teacher emotion in science teaching and student learning. This research demonstrates how the performance of emotional labor is an important aspect of reality in science teaching. The teacher in this study is willing to do the emotional labor that involves some suffering because the emotional rewards are gratifying. A perspective on emotion in science education may focus, at least in part, on the functions of emotion in creating inspiring emotional cultures in science teaching and learning. Recognizing that teachers and students are agents in constructing such cultures, educators, teachers, and administrators are more likely to grasp the complexities and possibilities of emotional labor in the context of science education. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed88:301–324, 2004; Published online in Wiley InterScience ( DOI 10.1002/.sce10116