Wild-type or phyA, phyB, or hy4 mutant Arabidopsis seedlings lacking phytochrome A (phyA), phytochrome B (phyB), or cryptochrome 1 (cry1), respectively, and the double and triple mutants were used in combination with blue-light treatments given simultaneously with red or far-red light. We investigated the interaction between phytochromes and cry1 in the control of hypocotyl growth and cotyledon unfolding. Under conditions deficient for cry1 (short exposures to blue light) or phyB (far-red background), these photoreceptors acted synergistically: Under short exposures to blue light (3 h/d) added to a red-light background, cry1 activity required phyB (e.g. the hy4 mutant was taller than the wild type but the phyBhy4 mutant was not taller than the phyB mutant). Under prolonged exposures to blue light (24 h/d) added to a far-red light background, phyB activity required cry1 (e.g. the phyAphyB mutant was taller than the phyA mutant but the phyAphyBhy4 mutant was not taller than the phyAhy4 mutant). Under more favorable light inputs, i.e. prolonged exposures to blue light added to a red-light background, the effects of cry1 and phyB were independent. Thus, the synergism between phyB and cry1 is conditional. The effect of cry1 was not reduced by the phyA mutation under any tested light condition. Under continuous blue light the triple mutant phyAphyBhy4 showed reduced hypocotyl growth inhibition and cotyledon unfolding compared with the phyAphyB mutant. The action of cry1 in the phyAphyB double mutant was higher under the red-light than the far-red-light background, indicating a synergistic interaction between cry1 and phytochromes C, D, or E; however, a residual action of cry1 independent of any phytochrome is likely to occur.