The wavelength dependency of xanthophyll cycling in two marine microalgae (Thalassiosira weissflogii and Dunaliella tertiolecta) was studied by establishing biological weighting functions (BWFs) during exposure to natural ultraviolet radiation. High-(HL) and low-(LL) light-acclimated cultures of both species were exposed outdoors for up to 60 min under a series of UVR (280-400 nm) cut-off filters, after which the de-epoxidation state of xanthophyll cycle pigments, radiocarbon assimilation and photochemical quantum yield were measured. Exposures were repeated 4-8 times during the daily cycle to create exposure-response curves for each wavelength condition. UVR affected the three target processes significantly in both species and biological weights increased with decreasing wavelength, particularly in the UVBR region (280-315 nm). Minor wavelength dependency was observed between 315 and 360 nm. After BWF normalization to 300 nm, the LL cultures showed highly similar responses when comparing the three target processes, while the BWFs for the HL cultures differed significantly. The observed enhanced xanthophyll cycling activity in the UVR region implied that xanthophylls had an active role in diminishing UVR stress. However, this enhancement seems to be an indirect effect of damage within the dark reactions of photosynthesis. Hence, another vital target process further downstream in the photosynthetic process, possibly involved in the dark reactions, seems to be responsible for the high similarity in BWFs.