Indoor tanning increases skin cancer risk, but the importance of different parts of the UV spectrum is unclear. We assessed irradiance of tanning devices in Norway for the period 1983-2005. Since 1983, all tanning models needed approval before being sold or used. UV Type 3 limits were valid from late 1992 (<0.15 W m(-2) for CIE-weighted, i.e. erythemally weighted, short and long wave irradiances). We analyzed data from 90% of the approved tanning models (n = 446 models) and two large inspection surveys in 1998/1999 and 2003 (n = 1,341 tanning devices). Mean CIE-weighted short wave irradiance of approved models increased from 0.050 W m(-2) (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.045-0.055) in 1983-1992 to 0.101 W m(-2) (95% CI 0.098-0.105) in 1993-2005, and mean long wave from 0.091 W m(-2) (95% CI 0.088-0.095) to 0.112 W m(-2) (95% CI 0.109-0.115), respectively. Inspection surveys revealed short wave irradiances much higher than that approved. In 1998-1999, only 28% (293/1034) of the devices were equipped with correct sunlamps and only 1 out of 130 inspected establishments fulfilled all requirements. In 2003, corresponding numbers were 59% (180/307) of devices and 2 out of 52 establishments. Mean short and long wave irradiances of the inspected tanning devices in 2003 were 1.5 and 3.5 times, respectively, higher than the irradiance of natural summer sun in Oslo. In conclusion, the short wave irradiance has increased in indoor tanning devices in Norway over the last 20 years. Due to the high long wave irradiance throughout this period, the percentage of short wave irradiance was much lower than for natural sun.