Photon transport in plane-parallel, vertically inhomogeneous clouds is investigated and applied to cloud remote sensing techniques that use solar reflectance or transmittance measurements for retrieving droplet effective radius. Transport is couched in terms of weighting functions which approximate the relative contribution of individual layers to the overall retrieval. Two vertical weightings are investigated, including one based on the average number of scatterings encountered by reflected and transmitted photons in any given layer. A simpler vertical weighting, based on the maximum penetration of reflected photons, proves useful for solar reflectance measurements. These weighting functions are highly dependent on droplet absorption and solar/viewing geometry. A superposition technique, using adding/doubling radiative transfer procedures, is used to accurately determine both weightings, avoiding time-consuming Monte Carlo methods. Effective radius retrievals from modeled vertically structured liquid water clouds are then made using the standard near-infrared bands and compared with size estimates based on the proposed weighting functions. Agreement between the two methods is generally within several tenths of a micrometer, much better than expected retrieval accuracy. Though the emphasis is on photon transport in clouds, the derived weightings can be applied to any multiple-scattering plane-parallel radiative transfer problem, including arbitrary combinations of cloud, aerosol, and gas layers.