The transition to flowering in plants is regulated by environmental factors such as temperature and light. Plants grown under dense canopies or at high density perceive a decrease in the ratio of red to far-red incoming light. This change in light quality serves as a warning of competition, triggering a series of responses known collectively as the 'shade-avoidance syndrome'. During shade avoidance, stems elongate at the expense of leaf expansion, and flowering is accelerated. Of the five phytochromes-a family of red/far-red light photoreceptors-in Arabidopsis, phytochrome B (phyB) has the most significant role in shade-avoidance responses, but the mechanisms by which phyB regulates flowering in response to altered ratios of red to far-red light are largely unknown. Here we identify PFT1 (PHYTOCHROME AND FLOWERING TIME 1), a nuclear protein that acts in a phyB pathway and induces flowering in response to suboptimal light conditions. PFT1 functions downstream of phyB to regulate the expression of FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT), providing evidence for the existence of a light-quality pathway that regulates flowering time in plants.