A common feature of light stress in plants, algae, and cyanobacteria is the light-induced damage to the photosystem II complex (PSII), which catalyses the photosynthetic oxidation of water to molecular oxygen. A repair cycle operates to replace damaged subunits within PSII, in particular, the D1 reaction centre polypeptide, by newly synthesized copies. As yet the molecular details of this physiologically important process remain obscure. A key aspect of the process that has attracted much attention is the identity of the protease or proteases involved in D1 degradation. The results are summarized here of recent mutagenesis experiments that were designed to assess the functional importance of the DegP/HtrA and FtsH protease families in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. Based on these results and the analysis of Arabidopsis mutants, a general model for PSII repair is suggested in which FtsH complexes alone are able to degrade damaged D1.