Exposure of isolated spinach thylakoids to high intensity illumination (photoinhibition) results in the well-characterized impairment of Photosystem II electron transport, followed by degradation of the D1 reaction centre protein. In the present study we demonstrate that this process is accompanied by singlet oxygen production. Singlet oxygen was detected by EPR spectroscopy, following the formation of stable nitroxide radicals from the trapping of singlet oxygen with a sterically hindered amine TEMP (2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine). There was no detectable singlet oxygen production during anaerob photoinhibition or in the presence of sodium-azide. Comparing the kinetics of the loss of PS II function and D1 protein with that of singlet oxygen trapping suggests that singlet oxygen itself or its radical product initiates the degradation of D1.