Pharaonis phoborhodopsin (ppR), also called pharaonis sensory rhodopsin II, NpSRII, is a photoreceptor for the photophobic response of Natronomonas pharaonis. Tryptophan 182 (W182) of bacteriorhodopsin (bR) is near the chromophore retinal and has been suggested to interact with retinal during the photoreaction and also to be involved in the hydrogen-bonding network around the retinal. W182 of bR is conserved in ppR as tryptophan 171 (W171). To elucidate whether W171 of ppR interacts with retinal during the photoreaction and/or is involved in the hydrogen-bonding network as in bR, we formed W171-substituted mutants of ppR, W171A and W171T. Our low-temperature spectroscopic study has revealed that the substitution of W171 to Ala or Thr resulted in the stabilization of M- and O-intermediates. The stability of M and absorption spectral changes during the M-decay were different depending on the substituted residue. These findings suggest that W171 in ppR interacts with retinal and the degree of the interaction depends on the substituted residues, which might be rate determining in the M-decay. In addition, the involvement of W171 in the hydrogen-bonding network is suggested by the O-decay. We also found that glycerol slowed the decay of M and not of O.