The organization of bacteriochlorophyll c (BChl c) molecules was studied in normal and carotenoid-deficient chlorosomes isolated from the green phototrophic bacterium Chloroflexus aurantiacus. Carotenoid-deficient chlorosomes were obtained from cells grown in the presence of 60 μg of 2-hydroxybiphenyl per ml. At this concentration, BChl c synthesis was not affected while the formation of the 5.7 kDa chlorosome polypeptide was inhibited by about 50% (M. Foidl et al., submitted). Absorption, linear dichroism and circular dichroism spectroscopy showed that the organization of BChl c molecules with respect to each other as well as to the long axis of the chlorosomes was similar for both types of chlorosomes. Therefore, it is concluded that the organization of BChl c molecules is largely independent on the presence of the bulk of carotenoids as well as of at least half of the normal amount of the 5.7 kDa polypeptide. The Stark spectra of the chlorosomes, as characterized by a large difference polarizability for the ground- and excited states of the interacting BChl c molecules, were much more intense than those of individual pigments. It is proposed that this is caused by the strong overlap of BChl c molecules in the chlorosomes. In contrast to individual chlorophylls, BChl c in chlorosomes did not give rise to a significant difference permanent dipole moment for the ground- and excited states. This observation favors models for the BChl c organization which invoke the anti-parallel stacking of linear BChl c aggregates above those models in which linear BChl c aggregates are stacked in a parallel fashion. The difference between the Stark spectrum of carotenoid-deficient and WT chlorosomes indicates that the carotenoids are in the vicinity of the BChls.