A light emitting diode (LED) lighting system includes a controller to control current in one or more LEDs in response to a dimming level input. The LED lighting system implements a dimming strategy having two modes of operation that allow the LED lighting system to dim the LEDs using an active value of an LED current less than a full value LED current while maintaining continuous conduction mode operation. In an active value varying mode of operation, the controller varies an active value of the LED current for a first set of dimming levels. In an active value, duty cycle modulation mode of operation, the controller duty cycle modulates an active value of the LED current for a second set of dimming levels. In at least one embodiment, the active value of the LED current varies from a full active value to an intermediate active value as dimming levels decrease.