The circadian activity rhythm of the common marmoset, Callithrix j. jacchus was investigated by long-term recording of the locomotor activity of 15 individuals (5 males, 10 females) from 1.5 to 8 years old, both under constant illumination and under LD 12:12. The mean period of the spontaneous circadian rhythm was 23.2 ± 0.3 h. Neither sex-specific differences nor a systematic influence of light intensity on the spontaneous period were observed, but the period was dependent on the duration of the trial and on the age of the individual. Due to the short spontaneous period, in LD 12:12 there was a distinct advance of the activity phase with respect to the light time and a masking of the true onset of activity by the inhibitory direct effect of low light intensity during the dark time. After an 8 h delay shift of the LD 12:12, re-entrainment of the circadian activity rhythm required an average of 6.8 ± 0.7 days; the average re-entrainment time after an 8 h phase advance of the LD cycle was 8.6 ± 1.3 day. This directional effect is ascribed to characteristics of the phase-response curve. No ultradian components were observed, either in the LD-entrained or the free-running circadian activity rhythm.