Radiolabeled photobilirubins, prepared in vitro by anaerobic illumination of [34C]bilirubin, were injected intravenously into homozygous jaundiced Gunn rats with an external bile fistula. With the animals kept in darkness, the labeled photobilirubins were excreted rapidly in bile. Photobilirubins IA and IB were excreted primarily as unconjugated bilirubin, whereas photobilirubin II was excreted primarily as photobilirubin II and not converted into bilirubin. Bile of Gunn rats given no exogenous pigments, but undergoing phototherapy, contained a large proportion of photobilirubin II and, if collected in liquid nitrogen, traces of photobilirubins I; neither was found in bile when these rats were kept in the dark. Because there is prior evidence that these rats were kept in the dark. Because there is prior evidence that these photobilirubins are isomers of bilirubin, these experiments indicate that the major mechanism of phototherapy is photoisomerization of bilirubin. Photobilirubin II is the unidentified major photoderivative described previously, whereas formation of photobilirubins IA and IB, and their reversion to bilirubin-IXalpha, account for the remarkably increased output of the parent pigment during phototherapy.