The long-term response (LTR) of higher plants to varying light qualities increases the photosynthetic yield; however, the benefit of this improvement for physiology and survival of plants is largely unknown, and its functional relation to other light acclimation responses has never been investigated. To unravel positive effects of the LTR we acclimated Arabidopsis thaliana for several days to light sources, which preferentially excite photosystem I (PSI) or photosystem II (PSII). After acclimation, plants revealed characteristic differences in chlorophyll fluorescence, thylakoid membrane stacking, phosphorylation state of PSII subunits and photosynthetic yield of PSII and PSI. These LTR-induced changes in the structure, function and efficiency of the photosynthetic machinery are true effects by light quality acclimation, which could not be induced by light intensity variations in the low light range. In addition, high light stress experiments indicated that the LTR is not involved in photoinhibition; however, it lowers non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) by directing more absorbed light energy into photochemical work. NPQ in turn is not essential for the LTR, since npq mutants performed a normal acclimation. We quantified the beneficial potential of the LTR by comparing wild-type plants with the LTR-deficient mutant stn7. The mutant exhibited a decreased effective quantum yield and produced only half of seeds when grown under fluctuating light quality conditions. Thus, the LTR represents a distinct acclimation response in addition to other already known responses that clearly improves plant physiology under low light conditions resulting in a pronounced positive effect on plant fitness.