Two rice (Oryza sativa L.) cultivars of contrasting morphologies, IR-36 and Fujiyama-5, were exposed to ambient (360 μl l−1) and ambient plus 300 μl l−1 CO2 from time of emergence until ca 50% grain fill at the Duke University Phytotron, Durham, North Carolina. Exposure to increased CO2 resulted in about a 50% increase in the photosynthetic rate for both cultivars and photosynthetic enhancement was still evident after 3 months of exposure to a high CO2 environment. The photosynthetic response at 5% CO2 and the response of CO2 assimilation (A) to internal CO2 (Ci) suggest a reallocation of biochemical resources from RuBP carboxylation to RuBP regeneration. Increases in total plant biomass at elevated CO2 were approximately the same in both cultivars, although differences in allocation patterns were noted in root/shoot ratio. Differences in reproductive characteristics were also observed between cultivars at an elevated CO2 environment with a significant increase in harvest index for IR-36 but not for Fujiyama-5. Changes in carbon allocation in reproduction between these two cultivars suggest that lines of rice could be identified that would maximize reproductive output in a future high CO2 environment.