We have shown that both the native C-phycocyanin and its corresponding free biline chromophore undergo reversible, low-temperature photochemistry. We attribute this photochemistry to reversible proton-transfer processes and utilize the observed photoreaction for photochemical hole burning (PHB). Using narrow-band PHB experiments, we have been able to perform high-resolution optical studies and show that the protein-chromophore assembly forms a very rigid structure. The results lead to the conclusion that the light-induced proton transfer occurs most probably in the triplet state. © 1981, American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.