Abstract— The transient absorption spectra of the intermediates produced by the 355 nm laser excitation of gilvocarcin derivatives have been investigated in various solvents. The spectra consist of a triplet-triplet absorption in the visible region and a residual absorption observed between 340 and 700 nm due to a long-lived species, assigned to the radical cation. A broad-fast decaying band with a maximum at around 700 nm attributed to the solvated electron is also seen in solutions containing a low DMSO/water volume ratio and at 266 nm irradiation of a 50% methanol/water solvent mixture. The molar absorption coefficient of the triplet state of gilvocarcin V (GV) and gilvocarcin M (GM), determined by the energy transfer method, is independent of the solvent properties and has a value of 3.0 × 104/Mcm. The triplet decay rate constants for both drugs are between 1 and 5 × 104/s. A similar initial yield and triplet decay rate constant of GV were observed in the presence of 3.4 mM thymine. Thus, a quenching rate constant of the GV's triplet state by thymine is estimated to be lower than 106/Ms. The triplet quantum yields of both antibiotics determined by using the comparative method are higher in dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) (0.18) than are those corresponding to 25% DMSO/water (0.06). The decrease in φT in the presence of water could be attributed to an enhanced internal conversion rate constant from the S1 state or to an increase in the photoionization yield. The similarity of the transient intermediates and their yields for GV and GM suggest that their photobiological differences are due to other factors such as DNA binding constants, preferential localization of the drugs in the cell or the enhanced reactivity of the vinyl group toward cellular components.