Efficient light to biomass conversion in photobioreactors is crucial for economically feasible microalgae production processes. It has been suggested that photosynthesis is enhanced in short light path photobioreactors by mixing-induced flashing light regimes. In this study, photosynthetic efficiency and growth of the green microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii were measured using LED light to simulate light/dark cycles ranging from 5 to 100 Hz at a light-dark ratio of 0.1 and a flash intensity of 1000 µmol m−2 s−1. Light flashing at 100 Hz yielded the same photosynthetic efficiency and specific growth rate as cultivation under continuous illumination with the same time-averaged light intensity (i.e., 100 µmol m−2 s−1). The efficiency and growth rate decreased with decreasing flash frequency. Even at 5 Hz flashing, the rate of linear electron transport during the flash was still 2.5 times higher than during maximal growth under continuous light, suggesting storage of reducing equivalents during the flash which are available during the dark period. In this way the dark reaction of photosynthesis can continue during the dark time of a light/dark cycle. Understanding photosynthetic growth in dynamic light regimes is crucial for model development to predict microalgal photobioreactor productivities. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2011;108: 2905–2913. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.