hy8 long hypocotyl mutants of Arabidopsis defective in responsiveness to prolonged far-red light (the so-called "far-red high-irradiance response") are selectively deficient in functional phytochrome A. To define the molecular lesion in these mutants, we sequenced the phytochrome A gene (phyA) in lines carrying one or other of two classes of hy8 alleles. The hy8-1 and hy8-2 mutants that express no detectable phytochrome A each have a single nucleotide change that inserts a translational stop codon in the protein coding sequence. These results establish that phyA resides at the HY8 locus. The hy8-3 mutant that expresses wild-type levels of photochemically active phytochrome A has a glycine-to-glutamate missense mutation at residue 727 in the C-terminal domain of the phyA sequence. Quantitative fluence rate response analysis showed that the mutant phytochrome A molecule produced by hy8-3 exhibited no detectable regulatory activity above that of the phyA-protein-deficient hy8-2 mutant. This result indicates that glycine-727, which is invariant in all sequenced phytochromes, has a function important to the regulatory activity of phytochrome A but not to photoperception.