Photosynthetic electron transport capacity was varied in vivo in sugar beets using iron deficiency, and its effects on the light modulation of ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase (RuBPCase) studied. Three treatment groups corresponding to decreasing amounts of thylakoids per leaf area were examined: iron sufficient (control), moderately iron-stressed, and severely iron-stressed. Reduction in electron transport capacity in vivo was correlated with a substantial decrease in the level of RuBPCase activation, even at saturating irradiances. These results indicate a direct relationship between RuBPCase activation and photosynthetic electron transport. In addition, our data suggest that the activation of RuBPCase could not solely account for the increases in the photosynthetic rate at high irradiances; RuBPCase reached maximal activation at irradiances well below light saturation for net photosynthesis.