The effect of water stress on the respiratory energy demand for the main biosynthetic and transport processes was estimated in the leaves of spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L. cv. San Pastore) acclimated and non-acclimated to drought. ATP-consuming processes were assessed from the effects of selective inhibitors of RNA synthesis, protein synthesis and proteolysis, Ca2+-ATPase and P-type ATPases on respiration. The proportions of energy consumed by these processes were compared with the theoretical ATP production calculated from the rate of oxygen consumption measured manometrically. Respiratory energy production increased significantly in both acclimated leaves and in leaves stressed by drought. In the fully grown wheat leaves, Ca2+-dependent reactions and protein turnover consumed about 37% and 34% of the total respiratory energy, respectively. The costs of ion transport constituted another 15% of the total ATP production. Both acclimation and drought stress in non-acclimated leaves resulted in a decrease of leaf sensitivity towards inhibitors of RNA and protein syntheses as well as a decrease in Ca2+-mediated processes; but also in an increase of leaf sensitivity towards inhibitors of proteolysis and ouabain-sensitive ATPase in non-acclimated plants. This indicates a shift in ATP input into the energy-requiring processes towards greater expenses for ion transport upon water deficit. However, in acclimated leaves under drought stress, distribution of respiratory energy became almost the same as in control plants.