The effect of colonization with the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungus Glomus mosseae (Nicol. & Gerd.) Gerdemann & Trappe on the growth and physiology of NaCl-stressed maize plants ( Zea mays L. cv. Yedan 13) was examined in the greenhouse. Maize plants were grown in sand with 0 or 100 mM NaCl and at two phosphorus (P) (0.05 and 0.1 mM) levels for 34 days, following 34 days of non-saline pre-treatment. Mycorrhizal plants maintained higher root and shoot dry weights. Concentrations of chlorophyll, P and soluble sugars were higher than in non-mycorrhizal plants under given NaCl and P levels. Sodium concentration in roots or shoots was similar in mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal plants. Mycorrhizal plants had higher electrolyte concentrations in roots and lower electrolyte leakage from roots than non-mycorrhizal plants under given NaCl and P levels. Although plants in the low P plus AM fungus treatment and those with high P minus AM fungus had similar P concentrations, the mycorrhizal plants still had higher dry weights, soluble sugars and electrolyte concentrations in roots. Similar relationships were observed regardless of the presence or absence of salt stress. Higher soluble sugars and electrolyte concentrations in mycorrhizal plants suggested a higher osmoregulating capacity of these plants. Alleviation of salt stress of a host plant by AM colonization appears not to be a specific effect. Furthermore, higher requirement for carbohydrates by AM fungi induces higher soluble sugar accumulation in host root tissues, which is independent of improvement in plant P status and enhances resistance to salt-induced osmotic stress in the mycorrhizal plant.