We examined the influence of short-term exposure of different UV wavebands on the fine-scale kinetics of hypocotyl growth of dim red light-grown cucumbers (Cucumis sativus L.) and other selected dicotyledonous seedlings to evaluate: (1) whether responses induced by UV-B radiation (280-320 nm) are qualitatively different from those induced by UV-A (320-400 nm) radiation, and (2) whether different wavebands within the UV-B elicit different responses. Responses to brief (30 min) irradiations with 3 different UV wavebands all included transient inhibition of elongation during irradiation followed by wavelength specific responses. Irradiations with proportionally greater short wavelength UV-B (37% of UV-B between 280 and 300 nm) induced inhibition of hypocotyl elongation within 20 min of onset of irradiation, while UV-B including only wavelengths longer than 290 nm (and only 8% of UV-B between 290 and 300 nm) induced inhibition of hypocotyl elongation with a lag of 1-2 h. The response to short wavelength UV-B was persistent for at least 24 h, while the response to long wavelength UV-B lasted only 2-3 h. The UV-A treatment induced reductions in elongation rates of approximately 6-9 h following exposure followed by a continued decline in rates for the following 15-18 h. Short wavelength UV-B also induced positive phototropic curvature in both cucumber and Arabidopsis seedlings, and this response was present in nph-1 mutant Arabidopsis seedlings defective in normal blue light phototropism. Reciprocity was not found for the response to short wavelength UV-B. The short wavelength and long wavelength UV-B responses differed in dose-response relationships and both short wavelength responses (phototropic curvature and elongation inhibition) increased sharply at wavelengths below 300 nm. These results indicate that different photosensory processes are involved in mediating growth and morphological responses to short wavelength UV-B (280-300 nm), long wavelength UV-B (essentially 300-320 nm) and UV-A. The existence of two separate types of hypocotyl inhibition responses to UV-B, with one that depends on the intensity of the light source, provides alternate interpretations to findings in other studies of UV-B induced photomorphogenesis and may explain inconsistencies between action spectra for inhibition of stem growth.