The photohemolysis of normal erythrocytes incubated with protoporphyrin is reduced in the presence of albumin. When globin is added to normal erythrocytes loaded with protoporphyrin, protoporphyrin is bound to globin. During irradiation protoporphyrin moves from globin to the erythrocyte membrane and photohemolysis is initiated. Erythrocytes in patients with erythropoietic protoporphyria contain large amounts of protoporphyrin bound to hemoglobin. Upon irradiation of these cells in the absence of albumin, 40% of protoporphyrin and 80% of hemoglobin is released after 240 kJ/m2. The released protoporphyrin is hemoglobin bound. In contrast, when albumin is present only 8% of hemoglobin is released whereas protoporphyrin is released to 76%. The released protoporphyrin is albumin bound. A hypothesis for the release of erythrocyte protoporphyrin in erythropoietic protoporphyria without simultaneous hemolysis is proposed. Upon irradiation protoporphyrin photodamages its binding sites on hemoglobin, moves through the plasma membrane, and is bound to albumin in plasma.