In humans, exposure to bright light at night suppresses the normal nocturnal elevation in circulating melatonin. Oral administration of pharmacological doses of melatonin during the day, when melatonin levels are normally minimal, induces fatigue. To examine the relationship between illumination, human pineal function, and behavior, we monitored the overnight serum melatonin profiles and behavioral performance of 24 healthy male subjects. On each of three separate occasions subjects participated in 13.5 h (1630-0800 h) testing sessions. Each subject was assigned to an individually illuminated workstation that was maintained throughout the night at an illumination level of approximately 300, 1500, or 3000 lux. Melatonin levels were significantly diminished by light treatment, F(2, 36) = 12.77, p < 0.001, in a dose-dependent manner. Performance on vigilance, reaction time, and other tasks deteriorated throughout the night, consistent with known circadian variations in these parameters, but independent of ambient light intensity and circulating melatonin levels.