Lhcb5 is an antenna protein that is highly conserved in plants and green algae. It is part of the inner layer of photosystem II antenna system retained in high light acclimated plants. To study the structure-function relation and the role of individual pigments in this complex, we (i) "knocked out" each of the chromophores bound to multiple (nine total) chlorophyll sites and (ii) exchanged the xanthophylls bound to the three xanthophyll sites. The occupancy and associated energy of the pigment binding sites were determined. The role of the individual pigments in protein folding, stability, energy transfer, and dissipation was studied in vitro. The results indicate that lutein has a primary role in the folding and stability of the complex, whereas violaxanthin and zeaxanthin have a negative effect on folding yield and stability, respectively. The data showed a distinct function for the L1 and L2 carotenoid binding sites, the former preferentially involved in gathering the excitation energy to chlorophyll a (Chl a), whereas the latter modulates the concentration of chlorophyll singlet excited states dependent on the xanthophylls bound to it, likely via an interaction with Chl-603. Our results also underscored the role of zeaxanthin and lutein in quenching the excitation energy, whereas violaxanthin was shown to be very effective in energy transfer. The characteristics of the isolated proteins were consistent with the observed role of Lhcb5 in vivo in catalyzing fluorescence quenching upon zeaxanthin binding. © 2009 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.