The purpose of this study was to test for direct inhibition of rice canopy apparent respiration by elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]) across a range of short-term air temperature treatments. Rice (cv. IR-72) was grown in eight naturally sunlit, semiclosed, plant growth chambers at daytime [CO2] treatments of 350 and 700 μmol mol−1. Short-term night-time air temperature treatments ranged from 21 to 40 °C. Whole canopy respiration, expressed on a ground area basis (Rd), was measured at night by periodically venting the chambers with ambient air. This night-time chamber venting and resealing procedure produced a range of increasing chamber [CO2] which we used to test for potential inhibitory effects of rising [CO2] on Rd. A nitrous oxide leak detection system was used to correct Rd measurements for chamber leakage rate (L) and also to determine if apparent reductions in night-time Rd with rising [CO2] could be completely accounted for by L. The L was affected by both CO2 concentration gradient between the chamber and ambient air and the inherent leakiness of each individual chamber. Nevertheless, after correcting Rd for L, we detected a rapid and reversible, direct inhibition of Rd with rising chamber [CO2] for air temperatures above 21 °C. This effect was larger for the 350 compared with the 700 μmol mol−1 daytime [CO2] treatment and was also increased with increasing short-term air temperature treatments. However, little difference in Rd was found between the two daytime [CO2] treatments when night-time [CO2] was at the respective daytime [CO2]. These results suggest that naturally occurring diurnal changes in both ambient [CO2] and air temperature can affect Rd. Because naturally occurring diurnal changes in both [CO2] and air temperature can be expected in a future higher CO2 world, short-term direct effects of these environmental variables on rice Rd can also be expected.