The bacterial reaction center absorbance change at 450 nm (A-450), assigned to an anionic semiquinone, has been suggested as a candidate for the reduced form of the primary electron acceptor in bacterial photosynthesis. In reaction centers of Rhodopseudomonas sphaeroides we have found kinetic discrepancies between the decay of A-450 and the recovery of photochemical competence. In addition, no proton uptake is measurable on the first turnover, although subsequent ones elicit one proton bound per electron. These results are taken to indicate that the acceptor reaction after a long dark period may be different for the first turnover than for subsequent ones. It is suggested that A-450 is still a likely candidate for the acceptor function but that in reaction centers, additional quinone may act as an adventitious primary acceptor when the ''true'' primary acceptor is reduced. Alternatively, the primary acceptor may act in a ''ping-pong'' fashion with respect to subsequent photoelectrons.