A plastid-localized terminal oxidase, PTox, was first described due to its role in chloroplast development, with plants lacking PTox producing white sectors on their leaves. This phenotype is explained as being due to PTox playing a role in carotenoid biosynthesis, as a cofactor of phytoene desaturase. Co-occurrence of PTox with a chloroplastlocalized NADPH dehydrogenase (NDH) has suggested the possibility of a functional respiratory pathway in plastids. Evidence has also been found that, in certain stress-tolerant plant species, PTox can act as an electron acceptor from PSII, making it a candidate for engineering stress-tolerant crops. However, attempts to induce such a pathway via overexpression of the PTox protein have failed to date. Here we review the current understanding of PTox function in higher plants and discuss possible barriers to inducing PTox activity to improve stress tolerance.