Experiments were performed on coral species containing clade A (Stylophora pistillata, Montipora aequituberculata) or clade C (Acropora sp., Pavona cactus) zooxanthellae. The photosynthetic efficiency (F(v)/F(m)) of the corals was first assessed during a short-term increase in temperature (from 27 degrees C to 29 degrees C, 32 degrees C, and 34 degrees C) and acute exposure to UV radiation (20.5 W m(-2) UVA and 1.2 W m(-2) UVB) alone or in combination. Increasing temperature to 34 degrees C significantly decreased the F(v)/F(m) in S. pistillata and M. aequituberculata. Increased UV radiation alone significantly decreased the F(v)/F(m) of all coral species, even at 27 degrees C. There was a combined effect of temperature and UV radiation, which reduced F(v)/F(m) in all corals by 25% to 40%. During a long-term exposure to UV radiation (17 days) the F(v)/F(m) was significantly reduced after 3 days' exposure in all species, which did not recover their initial values, even after 17 days. By this time, all corals had synthesized mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs). The concentration and diversity of MAAs differed among species, being higher for corals containing clade A zooxanthellae. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation at the nonstressful temperature of 27 degrees C conferred protection against independent, thermally induced photoinhibition in all four species.