The relationship between calcification and photosynthesis in coral was investigated using standard sea water with enhanced calcium concentration. In standard sea water at 23 degrees C with the calcium concentration increased by 2.5 mmol l(-1), incorporation of calcium into the skeleton increased by 30-61 %, depending on the method of data normalisation, and photosynthesis, measured as (14)C incorporation into the tissues, also increased by 87 %. At 29 degrees C, calcium incorporation into the skeleton increased by 54-84 % and (14)C incorporation increased by 32 % when sea water calcium concentration was increased by 5 mmol l(-1). However, photosynthesis measured as net photosynthetic oxygen production did not increase. Similarly there was no change in respiration rate when coral polyps were incubated in high-calcium sea water. It is conjectured that an increase in photorespiration may be responsible for the latter observations. Bisphosphonate has been considered to inhibit calcification but not photosynthesis in corals. We show that bisphosphonate may not inhibit formation of amorphous calcium carbonate and that the inhibition of calcification is possibly illusory. The data are consistent with the trans-calcification model, which suggests that calcification is a source of CO(2) for photosynthesis in corals.