Elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 are expected to increase photosynthetic rates of C3 tree species, but it is uncertain whether this will result in an increase in wetland seedling productivity. Separate short-term experiments (12 and 17 weeks) were performed on two wetland tree species, Taxodium distichum and Acer rubrum, to determine if elevated CO2 would influence the biomass responses of seedlings to flooding. T. distichum were grown in replicate glasshouses (n = 2) at CO2 concentrations of 350 or 700 ppm, and A. rubrum were grown in growth chambers at CO2 concentrations of 422 or 722 ppm. Both species were grown from seed. The elevated CO2 treatment was crossed with two water table treatments, flooded and non-flooded. Elevated CO2 increased leaf-level photosynthesis, whole-plant photosynthesis, and trunk diameter of T. distichum in both flooding treatments, but did not increase biomass of T. distichum or A. rubrum. Flooding severely reduced biomass, height, and leaf area of both T. distichum and A. rubrum. Our results suggest that the absence of a CO2-induced increase in growth may have been due to an O2 limitation on root production even though there was a relatively deep (??? 10 cm) aerobic soil surface in the non-flooded treatment. ?? 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.