Relatively few studies have examined the effects of low-dose ultraviolet (UV) radiation on in vivo human cutaneous immunity, or the ability of sunscreens to prevent UV-induced immunosuppression. We have studied the effects of solar-simulated UV radiation on nickel contact hypersensitivity (CHS) in nickel-allergic volunteers, and on delayed type hypersensitivity responses in Mantoux-positive volunteers. Nickel CHS and Mantoux responses were significantly suppressed by acute, suberythemal UV exposures equivalent to less than 8 min summer sunlight. Both UVA and UVB wavebands were immunosuppressive, but UVA-induced immunosuppression was transient, whereas UVB had a more sustained effect. Dose-responses for UV immunosuppression were determined using the nickel method, enabling calculation of in vivo sunscreen immune protection factors in a manner analogous with sun protection factor measurement. Sunscreens were found to confer significantly less protection against UV-induced immunosuppression than against UV-induced erythema.