Microalgae have been proposed as eco-friendly feedstocks for biodiesel production, because they accumulate large amounts of lipids and increase their biomass through photosynthesis. However, the photosynthetic efficiency of microalgae is too low for this strategy to be economically feasible. In an effort to overcome this issue, random mutants with reduced chlorophyll antenna size were generated by ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS)-mediated mutagenesis of Chlorella vulgaris. The antenna size mutant, herein designated E5, exhibited 56.5 and 75.8 % decreases in chlorophyll a and b contents, respectively, with significant reductions in the expression levels of peripheral light-harvesting antenna proteins in photosystem II. The saturated photosynthetic activity and electron transport rate of the E5 mutant were significantly higher and also showed reduced non-photochemical quenching (NPQ), compared to those of the wild type. Consequentially, the E5 mutant cultures achieved 44.5 % improvement in biomass productivity under high light (200 mu mol photons m(-2) s(-1)). These results suggest that improving the photosynthetic efficiency of microalgae could greatly enhance their biomass production, and such mutant strains can be applicable for large-scale outdoor cultivation which is typically exposed to high light intensity.