We have examined the effect of mild water stress on photosynthetic chloroplast reactions of intact Phaseolus vulgaris leaves by measuring two parameters of ribulose bisphosphate (RuBP) carboxylase activity and the pool sizes of RuBP, 3-phosphoglycerate (PGA), triose phosphates, hexose monophosphates, and ATP. We also tested for patchy stomatal closure by feeding 14CO2. The kcat of RuBP carboxylase (moles CO2 fixed per mole enzyme per second) which could be measured after incubating the enzyme with CO2 and Mg2+ was unchanged by water stress. The ratio of activity before and after incubation with CO2 and Mg2+ (the carbamylation state) was slightly reduced by severe stress but not by mild stress. Likewise, the concentration of RuBP was slightly reduced by severe stress but not by mild stress. The concentration of PGA was markedly reduced by both mild and severe water stress. The concentration of triose phosphates did not decline as much as PGA. We found that photosynthesis in water stressed leaves occurred in patches. The patchiness of photosynthesis during water stress may lead to an underestimation of the effect of stomatal closure. We conclude that reductions in whole leaf photosynthesis caused by mild water stress are primarily the result of stomatal closure and that there is no indication of damage to chloroplast reactions.