When light absorption by a plant exceeds its capacity for light utilization, photosynthetic light harvesting is rapidly downregulated by photoprotective thermal dissipation, which is measured as nonphotochemical quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence (NPQ). To address the involvement of specific xanthophyll pigments in NPQ, we have analyzed mutants affecting xanthophyll metabolism in Arabidopsis thaliana. An npq1 lut2 double mutant was constructed, which lacks both zeaxanthin and lutein due to defects in the violaxanthin de-epoxidase and lycopene in-cyclase genes. The npq1 lut2 strain had normal Photosystem II efficiency and nearly wild-type concentrations of functional Photosystem II reaction centers, but the rapidly reversible component of NPQ was completely inhibited. Despite the defects in xanthophyll composition and NPQ, the npq1 lut2 mutant exhibited a remarkable ability to tolerate high light.