Sweet corn (Zea mays var. rugosa L.) seed with the endosperm mutant shrunken-2 (sh2) often exhibit low seed vigor and poor field emergence. Seed respiration and carbohydrate metabolism during germination of supersweet `Jubilee' (sh2) and sugary sweet `Jubilee' (Sh2) were studied. There were no significant vigor differences expressed by isolated embryos from sh2 and sugary (Sh2) seeds, indicating similar embryo physiology. Respiration rates were higher in the sh2 genotype during early stages of germination (24 hours) while they declined later. The available sucrose originating from the endosperm reserves was depleted by day 4. This insufficiency of a sustained energy source due to rapid consumption and minimal stored reserves may limit subsequent seedling growth in the sh2 genotype.