We have examined the seed germination in Arabidopsis thaliana of wild type (wt), and phytochrome A (PhyA)- and B (PhyB)-mutants in terms of incubation time and environmental light effects. Seed germination of the wt and PhyA-null mutant (phyA) was photoreversibly regulated by red and far-red lights of 10-1,000 micromol m-2 when incubated in darkness for 1-14 hr, but no germination occurred in PhyB-null mutant (phyB). When wt seeds and the phyB mutant seeds were incubated in darkness for 48 hr, they synthesized PhyA during dark incubation and germinated upon exposure to red light of 1-100 nmol m-2 and far-red light of 0.5-10 micromol m-2, whereas the phyA mutant showed no such response. The results indicate that the seed germination is regulated by PhyA and PhyB but not by other phytochromes, and the effects of PhyA and PhyB are separable in this assay. We determined action spectra separately for PhyA- and PhyB-specific induction of seed germination at Okazaki large spectrograph. Action spectra for the PhyA response show that monochromatic 300-780 nm lights of very low fluence induced the germination, and this induction was not photoreversible in the range examined. Action spectra for the PhyB response show that germination was photoreversibly regulated by alternate irradiations with light of 0.01-1 mmol m-2 at wavelengths of 540-690 nm and 695-780 nm. The present work clearly demonstrated that PhyA photoirreversibly triggers the germination upon irradiations with ultraviolet, visible and far-red light of very low fluence, while PhyB controls the photoreversible effects of low fluence.