The interrelationships between the optical path in flat plate reactors and photosynthetic productivity were elucidated. In preliminary works, a great surge in photosynthetic productivity was attained in flat plate photoreactors with an ultra short (e.g. 1.0 cm) optical path, in which extremely high culture density was facilitated by vigorous stirring and strong light. This surge in net photosynthetic efficiency was associated with a very significant increase in the optimal population density facilitated by the very short optical path (OP). A salient feature of these findings concerns the necessity to address growth inhibition (GI) which becomes increasingly manifested as cell concentration rises above a certain, species-specific, threshold (e.g. 1-2 billion cells of Nannochloropsis sp. ml(-1)). Indeed, ultrahigh cell density cultures may be established and sustained only if growth inhibition is continuously, or at least frequently, removed. Nannochloropsis culture from which GI was not removed, yielded 60 mg(-1) h(-1), yielding 260 mg l(-1) h(-1) when GI was removed. Two basic factors crucial for obtaining maximal photosynthetic productivity and efficiency in strong photon irradiance are defined: (1) areal cell density must be optimal, as high as possible (cell growth inhibition having been eliminated), insuring the average photon irradiance (I(av)) available per cell is falling at the end of the linear phase of the PI(av) curve, relating rate of photosynthesis to I(av), i.e. approximately photon irradiance per cell. (2) The light-dark (L-D) cycle period, which is determined by travel time of cells between the dark and the light volumes along the optical path, should be made as short as practically feasible, so as to approach, as much as possible the photosynthetic unit turnover time. This is obtainable in flat plate reactors by reducing the OP to as small a magnitude as is practically feasible.