Stomatal pores on the leaf surface control both the uptake of CO2 for photosynthesis and the loss of water during transpiration. Since the industrial revolution, decreases in stomatal numbers in parallel with increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration have provided evidence of plant responses to changes in CO2 levels caused by human activity1, 2. This inverse correlation between stomatal density and CO2 concentration also holds for fossil material from the past 400 million years3 and has provided clues to the causes of global extinction events4. Here we report the identification of the Arabidopsis gene HIC (for high carbon dioxide), which encodes a negative regulator of stomatal development that responds to CO2 concentration. This gene encodes a putative 3-keto acyl coenzyme A synthase—an enzyme involved in the synthesis of very-long-chain fatty acids5. Mutant hic plants exhibit up to a 42% increase in stomatal density in response to a doubling of CO2. Our results identify a gene involved in the signal transduction pathway responsible for controlling stomatal numbers at elevated CO2.