In recent studies chloroaluminum phthalocyanine tetrasulfonate (AlPCTS) has been shown to be an effective photosensitizer for the tumor necrosis in a modality known as photodynamic therapy, but the mechanism of photodynamic effect of AlPCTS is poorly understood. In this study, in vitro incubation of rat epidermal microsomes with AlPCTS followed by exposure to red light (∼ 675 nm) resulted in an increase in ADP/iron-supported lipid peroxidation, a measure of membrane damage. This photodestructive effect was found to be dependent on both the duration of light exposure and the dose of AlPCTS. Studies employing various quenchers of reactive oxygen species revealed that scavengers of singlet oxygen (histidine, 2,5-dimethylfuran, β-carotene and sodium azide) afforded substantial protection (up to 90%) of photoenhancement whereas the scavengers of hydrogen peroxide (catalase), superoxide anion (superoxide dismutase), and hydroxyl radical (sodium benzoate, mannitol and ethanol) were ineffective in this regard. Our data indicate that AlPCTS-mediated photodestruction mainly involves a type II reaction via singlet oxygen formation and suggest that the latter could play a significant role in the tumor necrosis evoked by AlPCTS and light. © 1991.