Abstract Photoconductivity excitation spectra of fluid xenon were recorded for a wide range of densities and for temperatures ranging from the triple point to beyond the critical point. It was shown that the onset of photoconduction shifts linearly towards higher photon energies with decreasing density. The photoresponse decreases considerably for the lower densities ( ϱ<6×10 21 atoms cm −3) of the experimental range. The results are discussed in the framework of a model that involves a free-electron-like conduction band. A comparison is made with the evolution of excitons in the same system.