Polychromatic response spectra for the induction of UV absorbing mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) were calculated after exposing small thalli of the red alga Chondrus crispus under various cut-off-filters to natural solar radiation on the North Sea island Helgoland, Germany. The laboratory grown specimens, typically contain only traces of palythine and synthesise five different MAAs rapidly and in high concentrations after being transplanted into shallow water. The resulting qualitative and quantitative patterns of MAA induction differed markedly with respect to spectral distribution. Furthermore, the wavebands effective for MAA induction vary within the MAA. UV-B radiation had a negative effect on the accumulation of the major MAAs shinorine (lmax = 334 nm) and palythine (lmax = 320 nm), while short wavelength UV-A exhibits the highest quantum efficiency on their synthesis. In contrast, the synthesis of asterina-330 (lmax = 330 nm), palythinol (lmax = 332 nm) and palythene (lmax = 360 nm) was mainly induced by UV-B radiation. Whether the synthesis of shinorine and palythine is induced by a photoreceptor with an absorption maximum in the short wavelength UV-A and whether a second photoreceptor absorbing UV-B radiation is responsible for the induction of asterina-330, palythinol and palythene remains to be studied.Our results show that C. crispus has a high capacity to adapt flexibly the qualitative and quantitative MAA concentration to the prevailing spectral distribution of irradiance. On the one hand, this is regarded as an important aspect with respect to the acclimation of algae to increasing UV-B irradiance in the context of ongoing depletion of stratospheric ozone. On the other hand the experiment demonstrates that UV-A irradiance is more important for the induction of the major MAAs shinorine and palythine than UV-B.