Unlike most seabird families, the vast majority of small petrel species are nocturnal on their breeding grounds. Further, they reduce markedly their activity when the light level increases. Moonlight avoidance might be a consequence of reduction in foraging profitability, as bioluminescent prey do not come to the sea surface on bright nights. Alternatively, petrels may avoid colonies during moonlit nights because of increased predation risk. We studied predation on petrels by Brown Skuas Catharacta antarctica lönnbergi at Kerguelen, and the influence of moonlight on behaviour of both skuas and petrels, to test the ‘predation risk’ hypothesis. On the study area, Brown Skuas hunt at night and prey heavily upon the Blue Petrel Halobaena caerulea and the Thin-billed Prion Pachyptila belcheri. Predation risk was higher on moonlit nights, as skuas caught more prey, and particularly more Blue Petrels when the light level increased. Nightly intakes of Blue Petrel and Thin-billed Prion by skuas was related to colony attendance of non-breeders rather than that of breeders. Biometry of prey also suggested that skuas caught a higher proportion of non-breeding birds than was present at the colonies. Predation risk was thus greater in non-breeders and on moonlit nights. Colony attendance by non-breeding Blue Petrels and Thin-billed Prions was also reduced during moonlit nights. Vocal activity, which is mainly by non-breeders, was also drastically reduced when the light level increased in the species suffering the highest predation rate. Our results supported the ‘predation risk’ hypothesis, although the ‘foraging efficiency’ and the ‘predation risk’ hypotheses are not mutually exclusive: the former might explain the moonlight avoidance behaviour of breeding, and the latter that of non-breeding individuals.