Dorsal skin responses to a subchronic UVB-irradiation (10kJ/m2/rat /day), were examined in Wistar-derived hypotrichotic WBN/ILA-Ht rats for up to 3 months. Hyperplasia of epidermal cells and hair follicle epithelial cells as well as parakeratosis developed at 1 month and progressed thereafter, resulting in a prominent epidermis thickening and formation of epidermal ingrowths projecting into the dermis. At the same time, the percentage of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA)-positive epidermal cells significantly increased after I month. In some portions of the hyperplastic epidermis, especially of the epidermal ingrowths, keratinocytes were somewhat pleomorphic and migrated into the dermis. In the upper dermis, edema with capillary congestion, mast cell infiltration and fibroblast proliferation developed at I month, and the intensity of edema and the number of dermal mast cells was most prominent at 3 months. Edema spread to the epidermis, resulting in intercellular edema and subsequent dissociation of epidermal cells. Degeneration of collagen fibers was also detected in the upper dermis, especially beneath the epidermis. In addition, although not significant because of a large individual difference, the serum IgE concentration, showed a tendency to increase after 2 months. The present study clarified the characteristics of the dorsal skin responses to a subchronic UVB-irradiation in rats.