We have studied the electron transfer reactions from the tetraheme cytochrome of Rhodopseudomonas viridis to the oxidized primary donor in whole cells with a new high sensitivity spectrophotometer. In this apparatus the monochromatic detecting flashes are provided by a YAG pumped Optical Parametric Oscillator, allowing a 10 ns time resolution. When four hemes are reduced the observed electron transfer reaction sequence is the following: first the low-potential c552 heme (the number refers to the maximum absorption wavelength in the alpha-band region) is oxidized with a half time of 130 ns, in agreement with previous reports of measurements performed with purified reaction centers. Then, the electron hole is transferred to the low potential c554 heme with a half time of 2.6 µs. When only the two high potential hemes are reduced the observed electron transfer sequence is the following: oxidation of the high potential c559 heme in the hundreds of ns time range (410 ns), reduction of this heme by the high potential c556 heme in the µs time range (2.7 µs). This confirms the first steps of electron transfer observed in isolated reaction centers. However, in the microsecond time domain, the overall amount of oxidized hemes increases suggesting that, in vivo, the equilibrium constant between the P+/P and the c559ox/c559red couples is significantly lower than expected from the difference in their midpoint potentials.