Light is a potent stimulus for regulating circadian, hormonal, and behavioral systems. In addition, light therapy is effective for certain affective disorders, sleep problems, and circadian rhythm disruption. These biological and behavioral effects of light are influenced by a distinct photoreceptor in the eye, melanopsin-containing intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs), in addition to conventional rods and cones. We summarize the neurophysiology of this newly described sensory pathway and consider implications for the measurement, production, and application of light. A new light-measurement strategy taking account of the complex photoreceptive inputs to these non-visual responses is proposed for use by researchers, and simple suggestions for artificial/architectural lighting are provided for regulatory authorities, lighting manufacturers, designers, and engineers. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.