Genes for the family of green-fluorescent proteins (GFPs) have been found in more than 100 species of animals, with some species containing six or more copies producing a variety of colours. Thus far, however, these species have all been within three phyla: Cnidaria, Arthropoda and Chordata. We have discovered GFP-type fluorescent proteins in the phylum Ctenophora, the comb jellies. The ctenophore proteins share the xYG chromophore motif of all other characterized GFP-type proteins. These proteins exhibit the uncommon property of reversible photoactivation, in which fluorescent emission becomes brighter upon exposure to light, then gradually decays to a non-fluorescent state. In addition to providing potentially useful optical probes with novel properties, finding a fluorescent protein in one of the earliest diverging metazoans adds further support to the possibility that these genes are likely to occur throughout animals.