The diphenyl ether acifluorfen enhances the blue light-induced absorbance change in Triton X100-solubilized crude membrane preparations from etiolated oat (Avena sativa L. cv. Lodi) coleoptiles. Enhancement of the spectral change is correlated with a change in rate of dark reoxidation of a b-type cytochrome. Similar, although smaller, enhancement was obtained with oxyfluorfen, nitrofen, and bifenox. Light-minus-dark difference spectra in the presence and absence of acifluorfen, and the dithionite-reduced-minus oxidized difference spectrum indicate that acifluorfen is acting specifically at a blue light-sensitive cytochrome-flavin complex. Sodium azide, a flavin inhibitor, decreases the light-induced absorbance change significantly, but does not affect the dark reoxidation of the cytochrome. Hence, it is acting on the light reaction, suggesting that the photoreceptor itself is a flavin. Acifluorfen sensitizes phototropism in dark-grown oat seedlings such that the first positive response occurs with blue light fluences as little as one-third of those required to elicit the same response in seedlings grown in the absence of the herbicide. Both this increase in sensitivity to light and the enhancement of the light-induced cytochrome reduction vary with the applied acifluorfen concentration in a similar manner. The herbicide is without effect either on elongation or on the geotropic response of dark-grown oat seedlings, indicating that acifluorfen is acting specifically close to, or at the photoreceptor end of, the stimulus-response chain. It seems likely that the flavin-cytochrome complex serves to transduce the light signal into curvature in phototropism in oats, with the flavin moiety itself serving as the photoreceptor.