Eukaryotic algae and cyanobacteria produce hydrogen under anaerobic and limited aerobic conditions. Here we show that novel microalgal strains (Chlorella vulgaris YSL01 and YSL16) upregulate the expression of the hydrogenase gene (HYDA) and simultaneously produce hydrogen through photosynthesis, using CO 2 as the sole source of carbon under aerobic conditions with continuous illumination. We employ dissolved oxygen regimes that represent natural aquatic conditions for microalgae. The experimental expression of HYDA and the specific activity of hydrogenase demonstrate that C. vulgaris YSL01 and YSL16 enzymatically produce hydrogen, even under atmospheric conditions, which was previously considered infeasible. Photoautotrophic H 2 production has important implications for assessing ecological and algae-based photolysis.