We examined changes in nonstructural carbohydrate biosynthesis and activities of related enzymes in leaves of micropropagated apple plants (Malus domestica Borkh. cv. 'NaganoFuji') in response to water stress, with particular emphasis on the enzymes associated with sorbitol, sucrose and starch metabolism. Water stress resulted in the accumulation of photosynthates in leaves, mainly sorbitol, sucrose, glucose and fructose, accompanied by a reduction in starch concentration. Correlation and path analysis indicated that water stress affected the partitioning of newly fixed carbon among terminal products. In response to water stress, ADP-glucose-pyrophosphorylase (ADPGPPase) activity decreased, becoming a critical and limiting step in shifting partitioning of photosynthetically fixed carbon. Amylase and ADPGPPase affected sucrose and sorbitol metabolism, mainly by regulating substrate supply; however, competition for limited substrate had a greater effect on the biosynthesis of sorbitol than of sucrose. Starch metabolism was also strictly regulated by ADPGPPase and amylase, whereas other related enzymes were downstream of the pathway for synthesis and degradation of carbohydrates and thus had relatively little effect on starch metabolism. Sorbitol dehydrogenase and sucrose phosphate synthase were critical regulators of sorbitol and sucrose metabolism, respectively.