Overwintering needles of the evergreen conifer Douglas fir exhibited an association between arrest of the xanthophyll cycle in the dissipating state (as zeaxanthin + antheraxanthin; Z + A) with a strongly elevated predawn phosphorylation state of the D1 protein of the photosystem II (PSII) core. Furthermore, the high predawn phosphorylation state of PSII core proteins was associated with strongly increased levels of TLP40, the cyclophilin-like inhibitor of PSII core protein phosphatase, in winter versus summer. In turn, decreases in predawn PSII efficiency, Fv/Fm, in winter were positively correlated with pronounced decreases in the non-phosphorylated form of D1. In contrast to PSII core proteins, the light-harvesting complex of photosystem II (LHCII) did not exhibit any nocturnally sustained phosphorylation. The total level of the D1 protein was found to be the same in summer and winter in Douglas fir when proteins were extracted in a single step from whole needles. In contrast, total D1 protein levels were lower in thylakoid preparations of overwintering needles versus needles collected in summer, indicating that D1 was lost during thylakoid preparation from overwintering Douglas fir needles. In contrast to total D1, the ratio of phosphorylated to non-phosphorylated D1 as well as the levels of the PsbS protein were similar in thylakoid versus whole needle preparations. The level of the PsbS protein, that is required for pH-dependent thermal dissipation, exhibited an increase in winter, whereas LHCII levels remained unchanged.