From the perspective of skin cancer risks, sunbed tanning may give the population group of Swedish adolescents a yearly total dose in terms of ultraviolet radiant energy to the skin which is comparable to sunlight. For populations, a dosage scheme is applied, where exposed skin area is estimated to be two to ten times larger in tanning units than in outdoor sunlight. The normal dose fluence rate is multiplied by the exposure time and by the exposed body surface area. A study of sunbed use among adolescents was reinvestigated. Skin dose from artificial tanning in that population group is calculated and compared to sun exposure for erythemally effective radiation and for UVA (315-400 nm). Skin doses from tanning units to the adolescent population agree with estimates based on information concerning sunbed lamp sales/year. For the population, the erythemal skin dose from tanning units exceeds an increase in solar ultraviolet radiation to the skin projected from 10% ozone depletion. The dosage scheme might help to interpret data suggesting an increased melanoma risk among young people using sunbeds > or = 10 times per year. Tanning and sunburns in sunbeds and in sunlight is discussed with regard to skin area.