Perennial ryegrass was subjected to a range of anaerobic treatments. The distribution of C within the plant was determined by pulse labelling the shoots with 14C-CO2. A 5 h anaerobic period before pulse labelling reduced by 2.5–10 times the 14C remaining in the plants and released into the soil. The distribution of the 14C within the plant was also affected by anaerobiosis. Short periods of anaerobiosis (5 or 10 h) led to increased root-soil 14C respiration (monitored for 7 days). A longer period of anaerobiosis (48 h) initially inhibited root-soil 14C respiration, but when aerobiosis was restored. 57% of the total 14C fixed by the plant was respired by the roots-soil during the following 7 days compared to 19% for the aerobic control. There was a two-thirds reduction in the percentage C retained by the plants stressed for the 48 h compared to the aerobic control. At harvest, all anaerobic treatments were associated with more 14C remaining in the soil as a proportion of the total 14C fixed by the plant compared to the aerobic control.