Antinuclear antibodies are useful markers of connective tissue disease. In this study, UVB but not UVA induced the expression of Ro/SSA antigen on keratinocyte surfaces in vitro. This expression was also found with the extractable nuclear antigens RnP and Sm, but not with single or double-stranded DNA. The expression was prevented by blocking protein synthesis, suggesting that it was an active process. The results suggest that UVB exposure may result in the expression of Ro/SSA antigen on the surfaces of basal keratinocytes in vivo. This antigen could then bind circulating antibody leading to the cutaneous lesions in neonatal and subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus.