Solar radiation (SR) is essential for yield improvement in lentil, which is a crop of marginal environments. Herein, experiments were conducted over 2 years under a semi-arid environment to study the radiation interception (RI), efficiency, growth, and development of three lentil genotypes (Punjab Masoor-2009 (PM-2009), NIAB Masoor-2006 (NM-2006), and NIAB Masoor-2002 (NM-2002)) in relation to three nitrogen rates (13, 19, and 25 kg ha(-1)). Seasonal dynamics of intercepted photoactive radiation (IPAR) and cumulated photosynthetic photon flux density were highly associated with seasonal dynamics of leaf area index (LAI), with a high value of R-2 (0.93 and 0.89) across all nitrogen rates and genotypes in both years. Nitrogen application promoted growth, and maximum LAI (3.97 and 3.57) and RI (324 and 301 MJ m(-2)) were attained for the first and second years of study, respectively. Biomass and yield were positively associated with IPAR. Variation in radiation absorption (RA) among genotypes was due to different patterns of LAI development. In both years, yield (23% and 25%) and radiation use efficiency (RUE) for grain yield (0.44 and 0.37 g MJ(-1)) were respectively higher for PM-2009 than for the other genotypes. Genotype PM-2009 had 15 days shorter crop cycle than others while 14% higher GDDs accumulated in the first year compared with the second due to the higher temperature. High nitrogen (25 kg ha(-1)) application resulted in higher dry matter (DM), and grain yield (GY), while RUE and PAR were not statistically different under 19 kg N ha(-1) application across years. Genotypes PM-2009 and NM-2006 may perform reasonably well under arid to semi-arid regions at farmer field. These findings may assist researchers and crop modelers to optimize the lentil ideotype for efficient light utilization.