The circadian rhythm of swimming activity and the role of the daily illumination cycle in the synchronization of this rhythm were studied in individual juvenile pink salmon. Sixty eight percent of all fish examined (n=38) were day-active when exposed to a 12 h L:12 h D cycle; the remaining fish were nocturnally active. One half of the fish tested under laboratory conditions of continuous, constant light intensity (LL) and constant temperature showed unambiguously endogenous activity rhythms with circadian periods for up to 10 d. The remaining fish were arrhythmic. Mean period length of the free-running activity rhythms for diurnal fish in LL shortened with constant light intensity increasing from 6 to 600 lx, as predicted by the circadian rule. In contrast, mean free-running period for nocturnal fish did not vary significantly with similarly increasing constant light intensity. Mean swimming speed (activity level) of both diurnal and nocturnal fish increased significantly with increasing light intensity. This is suggestive of a positive photokinetic response. When subjected to a phase-delayed LD cycle, the fish resynchronized their daily rhythms of activity with this new LD cycle after only one transient cycle in most instances. Hence, the timing of the daily activity rhythms appeared to occur through the direct masking action of the illumination cycle on activity, rather than through entrainment of an endogenous circadian system.