Exposure to polycyclic aromatic carbons (PAHs) poses a growing risk to coral reefs due to increasing shipping and petroleum extraction in tropical waters. Damaging effects of specific PAHs can be further enhanced by the presence of ultraviolet radiation, known as phototoxicity. We tested phototoxic effects of the PAHs anthracene and phenanthrene on larvae of the scleractinian coral Acropora tenuis in the presence and absence of UVA (320–400 nm). Activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzyme was reduced by anthracene while phenanthrene and UVA exposure did not have any effect. Gene expression of MnSod remained constant across all treatments. The genes Catalase, Hsp70 and Hsp90 showed increased expression levels in larvae exposed to anthracene, but not phenanthrene. Gene expression of p53 was upregulated in the presence of UVA, but downregulated when exposed to PAHs. The influence on stress-related biochemical pathways and gene expresson in A. tenuis larvae was considerably greater for anthracene than phenanthrene, and UVA-induced phototoxicity was only evident for anthracene. The combined effects of UVA and PAH exposure on larval survival and metamorphosis paralleled the sub-lethal stress responses, clearly highlighting the interaction of UVA on anthracene toxicity and ultimately the coral’s development.