Extension growth of the first internode in fully de-etiolated mustard (Sinapis alba L.) seedlings (11-12.5 d old) is under the control of both the current phytochrome photoequilibrium (Pfr/P, ratio of the far-red-absorbing form of phytochrome to total phytochrome) and that established by short (<12 h) pretreatments. Plants were pretreated with either light pulses providing different calculated Pfr/P followed by dark incubations of different durations (a), or with a 12-h period of white light establishing different Pfr/P (b). After the pretreatments, the plants received either light pulses providing different Pfr/P, followed by dark incubations (c), or continuous white light with or without addtional far-red light (d). Thus, four experimental approaches were followed: (a)→(c); (a)→(d); (b)→(c) and (b)→(d). Extension growth during the second period (c or d) was not only affected by the current phytochrome status, but also by that established during the pretreatment period (a or b). The results show the existence of a long-term promotion of stem growth which persists after the end of the low Pfr/P pretreatment. This effect is different from the previously reported rapid effect of far-red light added to background white light as follows: (i) the duration of low Pfr/P required to effect a full response is longer (2.5 h); (ii) the duration of the promotion after returning to high Pfr/P is longer (approx. 24 h) and (iii) the locus of perception is mainly in the leaves, rather than the growing internode.