The light-induced decline of chlorophyll a fluorescence from a peak (P) to a low stationary level (S) in intact, physiologically active isolated chloroplasts and in intact Chlorella cells is shown to be predominantly composed of two components: (1) fluorescence quenching by partial reoxidation of the quencher Q, the primary acceptor of Photosystem II and (2) energy-dependent fluorescence quenching related to the photoinduced acidification of the intrathylakoid space. These two mechanisms of fluorescence quenching can be distinguished by the different kinetics of the relaxation of quenching observed upon addition of 3-(3′,4′-dichlorophenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea (DCMU). The relaxation of quenching by addition of DCMU is biphasic. The fast phase with a half-time of about 1 s is attributed to the reversal of Q-dependent quenching. The slow phase with a half-time of about 15 s in chloroplasts and 5 s in Chlorella cells is ascribed to relaxation of energy-dependent quenching. As shown by fluorescence spectroscopy at 77 K, the energy-dependent fluorescence quenching essentially is not caused by increased transfer of excitation energy to Photosystem I. By analyzing the energy- and Q-dependent components of quenching, information on the energy state of the thylakoid membranes and on the redox state of Q under various physiological conditions is obtained.