The effects of shade during leaf development on photosynthetic activity of cocoyam [Xanthosoma sagittifolium (L.) Schott] were investigated. Net gas exchange and N and chlorophyll concentrations were determined for cocoyam leaves growing in 30%, 50%, or 100% sunlight. Net CO2 assimilation (A) and water use efficiency (WUE) were greater for plants grown in 100% sunlight than for plants grown in less sunlight. Substomatal CO2 concentration increased with increased shading. Stomatal conductance (gs) and transpiration (E) did not vary significantly among treatments. Diurnal paterns for A were positively correlated with gs, lamina temperature, relative humidity, and photosynthetic photon flux (PPF). Lamina N concentrations, determined on lamina dry weight and lamina area bases, increased with increased PPF. Shade plants (30% and 50% sunlight) had greater chlorophyll: N ratios (dry-weight basis) and greater lamina area: lamina dry weight ratios than 100% sunlight-grown plants, which indicates increased photosynthate and N allocation to leaves of shade plants and maximization of light interception.