The capacity for photosynthetic acclimation in Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. cv. Landsberg erecta was assessed during growth over a broad range of irradiance. Discontinuities in the response to growth irradiance were revealed for the light- and CO2-saturated rate of photosynthesis (Pmax) and the ratio of chlorophyll a to chlorophyll b (Chl a/b). Three separate phases in the response of Pmax and Chl a/b to growth light were evident, with increases at low and high irradiance ranges and a plateau at intermediate irradiance. By measuring all chlorophyll-containing components of the thylakoid membrane that contribute to Chl a/b we reveal that distinct strategies for growth at low and high irradiance underlie the discontinuous response. These strategies include, in addition to changes in the major light-harvesting complexes of photosystem II (LHCII), large shifts in the amounts of both reaction centres as well as significant changes in the levels of minor LHCII and LHCI components.