Absorption and fluorescence emission spectra were measured at room temperature (ca. 22.degree.C) for solutions of phycocyanin-1, phycocyanin-2, and allophycocyanin from Phormidium luridum, and also for phycobilisome preparations from various blue-green algae (Anabaena variabilis, Nostoc muscorum strain A, Nostoc sp. strain Mac. Phormidium luridum). Kennard-Stepanov (KS) temperatures (T) were computed using the Kennard-Stepanov relationship F(.lambda.) = b A (.lambda.) (.lambda.-5 exp(-hc/.lambda.kT), where F(.lambda.) stands for fluorescence (energy per wavelength interval) as a function of wavelength (.lambda.), A(.lambda.) is absorbance as a function of wavelength, b a proportionality factor, and h, c and k are Planck's constant, the velocity of light and Boltzmann's constant, respectively. In most cases experimental data followed the expected relationship, but at low ionic strength allophycocyanin gave a clearly biphasic KS plot, i.e. In .lambda.5 F(.lambda.)/A(.lambda.) vs l /.lambda.. This could be due to the presence of both monomers and trimers in the sample at low ionic strength. For purified allophycocyanin and phycocyanins (PC-1 and PC-2) as well as phycobilisomes from Phormidium luridum, the KS temperatures were only slightly (insignificantly) elevated above the sample temperature. Thus, after absorption of a photon, vibrational and configurational equilibration is essentially completed before emission of the fluorescence photon takes place. For phycobilisomes from Anabaena variabilis and the two Nostoc species the KS temperatures were moderately elevated. Since there was no correlation between radiation temperature and excitation wavelength, the elevation is not due to excess (undissipated) vibrational energy, but rather to incomplete configurational equilibration.