Lichens constitute a prominent part of the vegetation at high latitudes and altitudes, but the effects of UV-B radiation on these symbiotic organisms are not well known. In a northern boreal site (Abisko, northern Sweden), the usnic acid-producing lichens Flavocetraria nivalis and Nephroma arcticum were exposed to enhanced UV-B radiation, corresponding to 25% ozone depletion, for two and one growing seasons, respectively. They were compared with lichens grown under ambient UV-B and harvested fresh from the field. The treated thalli of F. nivalis had been transplanted from a site 24 km from the treatment site. From this source locality, untreated thalli were also harvested. Enhanced UV-B did not affect concentrations of usnic acid and the two depsides phenarctin and nephroarctin. A gradual decline of usnic acid, probably coupled to unusually long periods of dry, sunny weather, was observed both under enhanced and ambient UV-B and in untreated thalli. Photosystem II efficiency in both species was slightly reduced by enhanced UV-B. However, differences between seasons were larger than differences between treatments, which indicate that UV-B effects are minor in comparison to other climatic variables. Concentrations of UV-B-absorbing phenolics in lichens do not show a simple relationship to UV-B dose and therefore cannot be used as bioindicators of UV-B levels.