Two field experiments in California rice paddies are reported, one with a single treatment of a research plot and the other with varied treatments in a typical commercial rice field. Small total methane emissions, only 11 g CH4/m2, were measured for the entire growing season in the first experiment. in the second experiment, the addition of exogenous organic matter (rice straw), the presence or absence of vegetation, and the nitrogen fertilizer amounts were examined for their influence on methane emissions. The total methane emission over the growing season varied from 1.2 g CH4/m2 (with no added organic matter) to 58.2 g CH4/m2 (with largest organic matter treatments). Added organic matter was the major factor affecting methane emissions. Vegetation did not greatly affect total methane fluxes, but it did influence the mode and timing of release. Nitrogen fertilizer did not greatly affect the amount of methane emitted, but it influenced slightly the time course of the process. A diurnal effect in methane emission was observed during the early ontogeny of the crop. The variation of methane emission with time during the course of the growing season was very unusual in this experiment; only one peak was observed, and it was early in the season. During the period of largest emissions, δ13C values of the methane were measured to be −55.7 ±1.8‰ in plots with added organic matter. Copyright 1992 by the American Geophysical Union.