The study of daily changes in photosynthetic rate, of energy used in photochemical and non-photochemical processes, and of carotenoid composition aimed at evaluating the role of xanthophyll cycle (XC) in protection of hoary plantain plants (Plantago media) in nature. The leaves of sun plants differed from shade plants in terms of CO(2) exchange rate and photosynthetic pigments content. The total pool XC pigments and the conversion state increased from morning to midday in sun plants. An increase in zeaxanthin content occurred concomitantly with the violaxanthin decrease. About 80% violaxanthin was involved in conversion. The maximum of zeaxanthin in XC pigments pool was 60%. The conversion state of XC was twice as lower in shade plants than that in sun plants. The photosynthesis of sun leaves was depressed strongly at midday, but changes of maximum quantum yield of PS2 (F(v)/F(m)) were not apparent at that time. The coefficient qN (non-photochemical quenching) in the sun leaves changed strongly, from 0.3 to 0.9 as irradiance increased. The direct relation between heat dissipation and the conversion state of XC in plantain leaves was revealed. Thus, plantain leaves were found to be resistant to excess solar radiation due to activation of qN mechanisms associated with the XC de-epoxidation.