In nature, plants are challenged by constantly changing light conditions. To reveal the molecular mechanisms behind acclimation to sometimes drastic and frequent changes in light intensity, we grew Arabidopsis thaliana under fluctuating light conditions, in which the low light periods were repeatedly interrupted with high light peaks. Such conditions had only marginal effect on photosystem II but induced damage to photosystem I (PSI), the damage being most severe during the early developmental stages. We showed that PROTON GRADIENT REGULATION5 (PGR5)-dependent regulation of electron transfer and proton motive force is crucial for protection of PSI against photodamage, which occurred particularly during the high light phases of fluctuating light cycles. Contrary to PGR5, the NAD(P)H dehydrogenase complex, which mediates cyclic electron flow around PSI, did not contribute to acclimation of the photosynthetic apparatus, particularly PSI, to rapidly changing light intensities. Likewise, the Arabidopsis pgr5 mutant exhibited a significantly higher mortality rate compared with the wild type under outdoor field conditions. This shows not only that regulation of PSI under natural growth conditions is crucial but also the importance of PGR5 in PSI protection.