The generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in UV-exposed skin is believed to contribute to the photoaging process. The stratum corneum (SC) contains a variety of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants to protect against various environmental sources of free radicals. We have previously shown a seasonal variation in SC catalase activity with strong deactivation in sun-exposed skin in the summer, whereas SC superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity remained intact in those conditions. This potentially leads to the local overproduction of H(2)O(2). The oxidized lipid squalene hydroperoxide accumulates at the surface of sun-exposed skin in the summer and upon exposure to ultravoilet A (UVA) doses as low as 0.1 J cm(-2) and adequate protection against excessive lipid peroxidation at times of UV exposure should be aimed for. We have been using the induction of lipid hydroperoxides at the skin surface by a single dose of UVA (1 J cm(-2)) as a model system to evaluate the protective effect of antioxidants in vivo. Topical treatment with the synthetic SOD/catalase mimetic molecule (EUK-134) 1 h before UVA exposure reduced the level of lipid peroxides at the surface of UVA-exposed skin but also baseline peroxide levels on non-irradiated skin were reduced in a dose-dependent fashion. In contrast to alpha-tocopherol, EUK-134 even reduced the level of lipid peroxides at the surface of UVA-exposed skin when it was applied after irradiation. We confirmed that this salen-manganese complex was able to reduce squalene hydroperoxide levels in vitro, suggesting peroxidase-like activity towards organic peroxides. These data support the concept that the synthetic SOD/catalase mimetic EUK-134 might be able to compensate for seasonal deficiencies in antioxidant defense capacity at the skin surface, thereby contributing to an optimal protection of the skin against the accumulation of oxidative damage.