ABSTRACT Seed germination and seedling performance are affected by environmental factors and seed traits. In this study we investigated the effects of seed size and light intensity on germinability and seedling development of Copaifera oblongifolia. A total of 225 seeds were individually weighed and sown in three germination trays composed of 75 cells each. Each tray was placed in a different germination chamber with controlled photoperiod, temperature and light intensity. Seed size showed a positive relationship with time required for seed germination, and seeds exposed to high light intensity required more time to germinate. Seed size did not affect germination percentage, but seeds sown under high light intensity had a lower germination percentage than seeds sown under low light intensity and darkness. Seedling shoot mass showed a positive relationship with seeds mass, and seedlings grown in high light intensity had greater shoot mass than seedling growth in low light intensity and darkness. Thus, seed germinability of C. oblongifolia was higher in darkness while seedlings exhibited greater development under light. Looking to explain the ability of C. oblongifolia to colonize open/disturbed sites, it seems possible that plowing soil can bury seeds, thereby stimulating the germination of seeds present in the seed bank.