The effect of common salt (NaCl) on ion contents, Krebs cycle intermediates and its regulatory enzymes was investigated in growing mungbean (Vigna radiata L. Wilczek, B 105) seedlings. Sodium and chloride ion contents increased in both root and shoot whereas potassium ion content decreased in shoot of test seedlings with increasing concentrations of NaCl. Organic acids like pyruvate and citrate levels increased whereas malate level decreased under stress in both roots and shoots. Salt stress also variedly affected the activities of different enzymes of respiratory chain. The activity of pyruvate dehydrogenase (E.C. 18.104.22.168) decreased in 50 mM NaCl but increased in 100 mM and 150 mM concentrations, in both root and shoot samples. Succinate dehydrogenase (E.C. 22.214.171.124) activity was reduced in root whereas stimulated in shoot under increasing concentrations of salt. The activity of isocitrate dehydrogenase (E.C. 126.96.36.199) and malate dehydrogenase (E.C. 188.8.131.52) decreased in both root and shoot samples under salt stress. On the contrary, pretreatment of mungbean seeds with sublethal dose of NaCl was able to overcome the adverse effects of stress imposed by NaCl to variable extents with significant alterations of all the tested parameters, resulting in better growth and efficient respiration in mungbean seedlings. Thus, plants can acclimate to lethal level of salinity by pretreatment of seeds with sublethal level of NaCl, which serves to improve their health and production under saline condition, but the sublethal concentration of NaCl should be carefully chosen. © 2012 Elsevier Masson SAS.