Light irradiation can modulate various biological processes. For instance, low-power laser irradiation (LPLI) can induce cell proliferation and differentiation. It has been used to treat diseases of regeneration limitation and to promote wound healing. The biological mechanism of light irradiation remains unclear. Our previous studies have shown that low fluence LPLI induced the proliferation of human lung adenocarcinoma cells (ASTC-a-1) through PKC channel, while high fluence LPLI induced caspase-3 activation and cell apoptosis. The mechanisms of the initiation and regulation of apoptosis are complex and diverse. There are two main pathways to initiate and regulate cell apoptosis, one is the death receptor pathway (receptor/caspase-8/caspase-3), and the other is the mitochondria pathway (mitochondria/ caspase-9/caspase-3). Using fluorescent imaging techniques, we observed a temporal sequence of events during apoptosis induced by high fluence LPLI and PDT. Both the high fluence LPLI and PDT triggers mitochondrial ROS production resulting in dissipation of ΔΨm and activation of caspase-3. Our results also show the two treatments do not activate caspase-8. These results suggest that caspase-3 activation induced by high fluence LPLI or PDT is initiated directly from mitochondria ROS generation and dissipation of ΔΨm, and independent of the cell death pathway involving caspase-8 activation. Because the progression of the apoptosis induced by high fluence LPLI is the same as that of PDT, we concluded that light is absorbed directly either by endogenous porphyrins or by the cytochromes in mitochondrion, resulting in initial ROS generation. During light irradiation induced apoptosis, apoptotic signals are initiated from mitochondrial ROS production due to photosensitization.