Although nitrogen starvation is frequently used to increase lipid contents in microalgae, it has a negative effect on cellular growth. Since light supply is essential for photosynthetic organisms, the effects of cultivation under monochromatic illumination on the growth and lipid contents of Nannochloropsis gaditana were assessed. Continuous cultivation under blue and red light conditions improved the productivity and physical properties for biodiesel from this microalga. FAME yield was twofold higher under red light than under normal white light (21.12% vs 11.35%), with no significant difference in growth rates. Blue and red light increased photosynthetic oxygen evolution, carbon fixation and nutrient uptake. In total, more significant physiological changes were observed under red than under blue light. These results show that red light illumination may be useful for enhancing lipid production by N. gaditana, with the increased photosynthetic reducing equivalents induced by red light which could be deposited as lipids and carbohydrates.