Porphycenes are structural isomers of porphyrins that have many unique properties and features. In the present work, the resonant two-photon absorption of 2, 7, 12, 17-etraphenylporphycene (TPPo) and its palladium(ll) complex (PdTPPo) has been investigated. The data obtained are compared to those from the isomeric compound, meso-tetraphenylporphyrin (TPP). Detection of phosphorescence from singlet molecular oxygen, O2(a 1?g), produced upon irradiation of these compounds, was used to obtain two-photon excitation spectra and to quantify two-photon absorption cross sections, d. In the spectral region of 750-850 nm, the two-photon absorption cross sections at the band maxima for both TPPo and PdTPPo, d = 2280 and 1750 GM, respectively, are significantly larger than that for TPP. This difference is attributed to the phenomenon of so-called resonance enhancement; for the porphycenes, the two-photon transition is nearly resonant with a comparatively intense one-photon Q-band transition. The results of quantum mechanical calculations using density functional quadratic response theory are in excellent agreement with the experimental data and, as such, demonstrate that comparatively high-level quantum chemical methods can be used to interpret and predict nonlinear optical properties from such large molecular systems. One important point realized through these experiments and calculations is that one must exercise caution when using qualitative molecular-symmetry- derived arguments to predict the expected spectral relationship between allowed one- and two-photon transitions. From a practical perspective, this study establishes that, in comparison to porphyrins and other tetrapyrrolic macrocyclic systems, porphycenes exhibit many desirable attributes for use as sensitizers in two-photon initiated photodynamic therapy. © 2007 American Chemical Society.