The roles of different phytochromes have been investigated in the photoinduction of several chlorophyll a/b-binding protein genes (CAB) of Arabidopsis thaliana. Etiolated seedlings of the wild type, a phytochrome A (PhyA) null mutant (phyA), a phytochrome B (PhyB) null mutant (phyB), and phyA/phyB double mutant were exposed to monochromatic light to address the questions of the fluence and wavelength requirements for CAB induction by different phytochromes. In the wild type and the phyB mutant, PhyA photoirreversibly induced CAB expression upon irradiation with very-low-fluence light of 350 to 750 nm. In contrast, using the phyA mutant, PhyB photoreversibly induced CAB expression with low-fluence red light. The threshold fluences of red light for PhyA- and PhyB-specific induction were about 10 nmol m-2 and 10 mumol m-2, respectively. In addition, CAB expression was photoreversibly induced with low-fluence red light in the phyA/phyB double mutant, revealing that another phytochrome(s) (PhyX) regulated CAB expression in a manner similar to PhyB. These data suggest that plants utilize different phytochromes to perceive light of varying wave-lengths and fluence, and begin to explain how plants respond so exquisitely to changing light in their environment.