The carbohydrate metabolism of the needles of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Norway spruce (Picea abies) has been examined in trees that were exposed to SO2, and O3, in an open-air fumigation experiment located in the Liphook forest in southern England. Two-year-old seedlings were planted in 1985 in seven experimental plots. Five plots received fumigation treatments of SO2, O3 or a combination of these gases to give a 2 × 3 factorial design with one additional ambient plot Fumigation with SO2, occurred from May 1987 to December 1990 and O3, fumigation occurred from March to December 1988, May to December 1989 and February to December 1990. Five samples of needles for investigation of carbohydrate metabolism were taken between February and July 1989. The concentrations of soluble carbohydrates (including sucrose and hexoses) were greatly reduced in the needles taken from Scots pine growing in the treated plots, and were also reduced, but to a lesser extent, in the needles taken from Norway spruce. Little variation in the concentration of starch in the needles of either species was detected. The activities of the two final enzymes of sucrose synthesis, sucrose phosphate synthase and sucrose 6-phos-phate phosphatase, were greatly reduced in the needles of Scots pine and were also reduced, but to a lesser extent, in the needles of Norway spruce in the fumigated plots. These reductions could be correlated with decreases in rates of photosynthetic CO2 assimilation determined by independent groups of researchers working on the Liphook site.