Although it is generally recognised that UV radiation (UVR) can induce suppression of contact hypersensitivity (CHS) in human subjects, most protocols to date have not tested the effect of low daily doses of solar simulated radiation (SSR). In the present study, healthy individuals, divided into four groups each consisting of approximately 34 subjects, were whole-body irradiated with 1.2 standard erythema doses of SSR for 2, 10 or 30 consecutive days, or were unirradiated. They were sensitised with diphenylocyclopropenone (DPCP) on one exposed body site 24 h after the final UVR. The occurrence and severity of the primary allergic response were noted, and both parameters were shown to be significantly lowered in the group irradiated for 30 days compared with the unirradiated group. Elicitation of CHS was undertaken 3 weeks after the sensitisation, using a range of concentrations of DPCP on a UV-protected body site. The extent of the CHS at 48 h was assessed by the clinical score, by an erythema meter and by histological examination of a biopsy taken from the site challenged with one selected concentration of DPCP. Although erythema and pigmentation did not differ between the groups, a significant negative correlation was found between the clinical CHS score and the number of days of UV exposure, at the lowest challenge dose of DPCP. In addition a significant negative correlation was revealed between the intensity of spongiosis (intraepidermal oedema and vesicles, as evaluated by histology) and the number of days of UV exposure. Thus small daily doses of SSR induce suppression of CHS in human subjects and the effect is cumulative, indicating that there is no adaptation to the immunomodulating effects of UVR, at least over the test period of 30 days.