The alternative oxidase mediates the cyanide-resistant respiratory pathway in plant mitochondria. In non-thermogenic plants, the role of alternative oxidase in plant growth and development is not well understood. Soybean (Glycine max) lines carrying a GmAOX2b antisense gene had compromised vegetative growth and reproductive performance under typical glasshouse growth conditions. The reduction in vegetative growth was demonstrated by reduction in shoot height, the number of leaves per plant and the green leaf area. Antisense plants also had decreased pod formation and seed to pod ratios, which together led to a reduction in the number and total mass of seed produced. The negative effects of the antisense gene on pod set, seed set, ovule availability and total seed mass were primarily confined to the branches, rather than the main stem. The preferential effect of alternative oxidase suppression in the branches is discussed in relation to the reproductive potential of soybean under stress. Taken together, these results demonstrate that alternative oxidase provides the benefit of sustaining plant vegetative growth and reproductive capacity in soybean.