Arthrospira platensis was cultivated in tubular photobioreactor in order to evaluate growth and biomass production at variable photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD = 60, 120, and 240 µmol photons m−2 s−1) and employing three different systems for cell circulation, specifically an airlift, a motor-driven pumping and a pressurized system. The influence of these two independents variables on the maximum cell concentration (Xm), cell productivity (Px), nitrogen-to-cell conversion factor (YX/N), photosynthetic efficiency (PE), and biomass composition (total lipids and proteins), taken as responses, was evaluated by analysis of variance. The statistical analysis revealed that the best combination of responses' mean values (Xm = 4,055 mg L−1, Px = 406 mg L−1 day−1, YX/N = 5.07 mg mg−1, total lipids = 8.94%, total proteins = 30.3%, PE = 2.04%) was obtained at PPFD = 120 µmol photons m−2 s−1; therefore, this light intensity should be considered as the most well-suited for A. platensis cultivation in this photobioreactor configuration. The airlift system did not exert any significant positive statistical influence on the responses, which suggests that this traditional cell circulation system could successfully be substituted by the others tested in this work. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2012; 109:444–450. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.