A total of 57 comparative hauls using a rectangular midwater trawl with a fishing mouth area of 50 m2 (RMT 50) were carried out along the sides of an imaginary triangle south of Madeira in 1986. A total of 1258 cephalopods were caught, giving a mean of 22 per haul with a range from 0 to 67. The nets were used with a diver's light on the top bar which was either switched off or was operated with a 20, 70 or 150 W bulb, powered by a car battery. A significantly greater number of individuals per haul was caught with lights on than without lights, increasing from a mean of 13·5–25·1, a factor of 1·8. Similarly, the number of species caught was increased from a mean of 7 to 10·4, a factor of 1·5 and the volume of cephalopods was increased from a mean of 41·1–162·3ml, a factor of 3·9. Similar comparisons made for catches during day or night separately and on the three courses separately also showed marked increases with the lights. Samples show that increase in power of the lights increased the total number of cephalopod individuals caught. In the 12 species with more than ten individuals, in 33 of the 36 comparisons (of number of individuals, species and volumes) there is an increase with the light. The most influenced species was Taonius pavo which increased in numbers by a mean factor of 3·9 times with 20W, 4·0 times with 70W and 6·1 times with 150W when compared with the numbers caught with no light.