[en] The etioplast of dark-grown angiosperms is characterized by the prolamellar body (PLB) inner membrane, the absence of chlorophyll, and the accumulation of divinyl and monovinyl derivatives of protochlorophyll(ide) a [Pchl(ide) a]. Either of two structurally related, but differentially expressed light-dependent NADPH:Pchlide oxidoreductases (PORs), PORA and PORB, can assemble the PLB and form dark-stable ternary complexes containing enzymatically photoactive Pchlide-F655. Here we have examined in detail whether these polypeptides play redundant roles in etioplast differentiation by manipulating the total POR content and the PORA-to-PORB ratio of etiolated Arabidopsis seedlings using antisense and overexpression approaches. POR content correlates closely with PLB formation, the amounts, spectroscopic properties, and photoreduction kinetics of photoactive Pchlide, the ratio of photoactive Pchlide-F655 to non-photoactive Pchl(ide)-F632, and the ratio of divinyl- to monovinyl-Pchl(ide). This last result defines POR as the first endogenous protein factor demonstrated to influence the chemical heterogeneity of Pchl(ide) in angiosperms. It is intriguing that excitation energy transfer between different spectroscopic forms of Pchl(ide) in etiolated cotyledons remains largely independent of POR content. We therefore propose that the PLB contains a minimal structural unit with defined pigment stoichiometries, within which a small amount of non-photoactive Pchl(ide) transfers excitation energy to a large excess of photoactive Pchlide-F655. In addition, our data suggests that POR may bind not only stoichiometric amounts of photoactive Pchlide, but also substoichiometric amounts of non-photoactive Pchl(ide). We conclude that the typical characteristics of etioplasts are closely related to total POR content, but not obviously to the specific presence of PORA or PORB.