Photosynthesis in the Azolla-Anabaena association was characterized with respect to photorespiration, early products of photosynthesis, and action spectra. Photorespiration as evidenced by an O2 inhibition of photosynthesis and an O2-dependent CO2 compensation concentration was found to occur in the association, and endophyte-free fronds, but not in the endophytic Anabaena. Analysis of the early products of photosynthesis indicated that both the fern and cyanobacterium fix CO2 via the Calvin cycle. The isolated endophytic Anabaena did not release significant amounts of amino acids synthesized from recently fixed carbon. The action spectra for photosynthesis in the Azolla-Anabaena association indicated that the maximum quantum yield is between 650 and 670 nanometers, while in the endophyte the maximum is between 580 and 640 nanometers. Although the endophytic cyanobacterium is photosynthetically competent, any contribution it makes to photosynthesis in the intact association was not apparent in the action spectrum.