The amount of 22- and 23-kDa polypeptides in a 23-kDa protein family, which plays a regulatory role in photosynthetic oxygen evolution, decreased significantly during the progress of appearance of chlorotic spots in cucumber mosaic virus strain Y (CMV[Y])-inoculated tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum 'Ky57') leaves (Plant Mol. Biol. 16:689-698, 1991). The present study was conducted to determine if the amount of other polypeptides of the oxygen-evolving complex and the oxygen-evolving activity also decreased in CMV(Y)-inoculated tobacco leaves. The amount of a 33-kDa polypeptide, which is essential to oxygen evolution, did not decrease in CMV(Y)-inoculated leaves showing early symptoms, although the amount of 22- and 23-kDa polypeptides began to decrease. However, comparative analysis of electron transport in thylakoid membranes indicated that the oxygen-evolving activity in CMV(Y)-inoculated tobacco leaves was only partly reduced, compared with the activity in CMV(O)-inoculated tobacco leaves which did not show clear symptoms. Partial inhibition of the oxygen-evolving activity, by a differential decrease in the amount of polypeptides of the oxygen-evolving complex, seems to be associated with the primary molecular process of symptom expression in CMV(Y)-inoculated tobacco leaves.