Recombination in bulk heterojunction solar cells is explored by observing the result of prolonged white light illumination, thermal annealing to high temperature, and chemical doping. Measurements of the photocurrent spectral response, the steady state photocurrent-voltage characteristics, transient photoconductivity and the dark forward bias current on polymer:fullerene solar cells provide information about the density of states and the electronic properties. Illumination generates deep localized states in the interface gap, which act as recombination centers and also increase the diode ideality factor. Annealing induces both nanostructural and electronic changes. The coarsening of the domain structure reduces the probability that excitons reach the interfaces and also reduces the charge transfer absorption. At the same time annealing broadens the exponential band tails and increases the recombination rate. Doping introduces shallow states near the fullerene conduction band, which also act as recombination centers. The results show that recombination is through localized states of different character, depending on the circumstances.