The dependence of the bacteriorhodopsin (bR) photocycle on the intensity of the exciting flash was investigated in purple membranes. The dependence was most pronounced at slightly alkaline pH values. A comparison study of the kinetics of the photocycle and proton uptake at different intensities of the flash suggested that there exist two parallel photocycles in purple membranes at a high intensity of the flash. The photocycle of excited bR in a trimer with the two other bR molecules nonexcited is characterized by an almost irreversible M --> N transition. Excitation of two or three bR in a trimer induces the N --> M back reaction and accelerates the N --> bR transition. Based on the qualitative similarity of the pH dependencies of the photocycles of solubilized bR and excited dimers and trimers we proposed that the interaction of nonexcited bR in trimers alters the photocycle of the excited monomer as compared to solubilized bR and the changes in the photocycles in excited dimers and trimers are the result of decoupling of this interaction.