Three components of non-photochemical fluorescence quenching were distinguished according to their response to irradiance and to their relaxation kinetics upon darkening. Two components of quenching were restricted to excessive irradiance and were interpreted to reflect radiationless dissipation. One relaxed rapidly upon darkening, and increased sharply when irradiance became excessive, i.e. as soon as net CO2 assimilation rate was no longer linearly related to irradiance, and attained a maximum value with only small further increases in irradiance. The second component relaxed slowly, increased mark- edly when the rapidly relaxing component had reached its maximum, and continued to increase linearly with increasing irradiance. The third component was already present at low irradiances, relaxed very slowly, and may be related to an altered distribution of excitation energy between PS II and PS I. ; Following exposure to weak illumination under conditions preventing photosynthetic electron transport (20 mbar O2, zero CO2), the reduction state of Q was initially high and decreased as non- photochemical fluorescence quenching indicative of radiationless dissipation developed. ; Subsequent to photoinhibitory treatments in high light and 20 mbar O2, zero CO2, an increased reduction state of Q as well as increased non-photochemical quenching of the two types indicative of increased heat dissipation was observed. In sunflower a lasting increase in the reduction state of Q was observed and fluorescence characteristics reflected photoinhibitory damage. In Nerium oleander, increased radiationless dissipation of the slowly relaxing type was the predominant response and the reduction state of Q was increased only transiently.