The effect of increasing concentrations (0·01, 0·1, 1 and 5 mg l−1) of intact (FLT) and photo-modified (phFLT) fluoranthene and the duration of exposure (1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 days) on the chlorophyll fluorescence parameters (F0, FV/FM, and ΦII) of symbiotic algae in the thalli of two foliose lichens Lasallia pustulata and Umbilicaria hirsuta was investigated. In addition the FLT concentration in thalli of both lichen species was determined and a bioconcentration factor (BCF) was calculated. The results obtained demonstrated that the concentrations of FLT and especially phFLT (1 and 5 mg l−1) applied affected primary photochemical processes of photosynthesis in the algae of both lichen species. The F0 value increased and the FV/FM and ΦII values decreased. The fluoranthene content in the thallus of both lichen species increased with increasing FLT concentration in the environment.