Plant culture in oxygen concentrations below ambient is known to stimulate vegetative growth, but apart from reports on increased leaf number and weight, little is known about development at subambient oxygen concentrations. Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. (cv. Columbia) plants were grown full term in pre-mixed atmospheres with oxygen partial pressures of 2·5, 5·1, 10·1, 16·2, and 21·3 kPa O2, 0·035 kPa CO2 and the balance nitrogen under continuous light. Fully expanded leaves were harvested and processed for light and transmission electron microscopy or for starch quantification. Growth in subambient oxygen concentrations caused changes in leaf anatomy (increased thickness, stomatal density and starch content) that have also been described for plants grown under carbon dioxide enrichment. However, at the lowest oxygen treatment (2·5 kPa), developmental changes occurred that could not be explained by changes in carbon budget caused by suppressed photorespiration, resulting in very thick leaves and a dwarf morphology. This study establishes the leaf parameters that change during growth under low O2, and identifies the lower concentration at which O2 limitation on transport and biosynthetic pathways detrimentally affects leaf development.