Competition for light determines the success of individual plants in dense vegetation. Much depends on the capacity of plants to detect neighbours quickly and on their ability to respond to these signals. Recent findings indicate that although red:far-red ratios, and thus phytochromes, are of major importance in shade-avoidance responses, they do not act alone. Differences in light intensity also provoke shade-avoidance phenotypes, with blue light playing an important role in dense stands. Moreover, links between shade-avoidance signalling and auxins, gibberellins and ethylene have emerged. Additional breakthroughs are based on transcriptome studies that have unveiled new components in the response to shading. Amongst these, the phytochrome interacting factor 3-like proteins PIL1 and PIL2 underline the importance of circadian gating in shade avoidance.