Predictions of the ocean-atmosphere flux of dimethyl sulfide will be improved by understanding what controls seasonal and regional variations in dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) production. To investigate the influence of high levels of irradiance including ultraviolet radiation (UVR), on DMSP synthesis rates (mu DMSP) and inorganic carbon fixation (mu POC) by natural phytoplankton communities, nine experiments were carried out at different locations in the low nutrient, high light environment of the northeastern Tropical Atlantic. Rates of mu DMSP and mu POC were determined by measuring the incorporation of inorganic C-13 into DMSP and particulate organic carbon. Based on measurements over discrete time intervals during the day, a unique mu DMSP vs. irradiance (P vs. E) relationship was established. Comparison is made with the P vs. E relationship for mu POC, indicating that light saturation of DMSP occurs at similar irradiance to mu POC and is closely coupled to carbon fixation on a diel basis. Photoinhibition during the middle of the day was exacerbated by exposure to UVR, causing an additional 55-60% inhibition of both mu DMSP and mu POC at the highest light levels. In addition, decreased production of DMSP in response to UVR-induced photoxidative stress, contrasted with the increased net synthesis of photoprotective xanthophyll pigments. Together these results indicate that DMSP production by phytoplankton in the tropical ocean is not regulated in the short term by the necessity to control increasing photooxidative stress as irradiance increases during the day. The study provides new insight into the regulation of resource allocation into this biogeochemically important, multi-functional compatible solute.