Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common disease in children, and epicutaneous treatment with a chemical hapten such as 2,4-dinitrofluorobenzene (DNFB) evokes an AD-like reaction in NC/Nga mice under specific pathogen-free conditions. Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine) is synthesized by the pineal gland, has several different physiologic functions, which include seasonal reproduction control, immune system modulation, free radical scavenging, and inflammatory suppression. In the present study, we investigated whether melatonin suppresses DNFB-induced AD-like skin lesions in NC/Nga mice. The topical administration of melatonin to DNFB-treated NC/Nga mice was found to inhibit ear thickness increases and the skin lesions induced by DNFB. Furthermore, interleukin (IL)-4 and interferon (IFN)-gamma secretion by activated CD4(+) T cells from the draining lymph nodes of DNFB-treated NC/Nga mice were significantly inhibited by melatonin, and total IgE levels in serum were reduced. Our findings suggest that melatonin suppresses the development of AD-like dermatitis in DNFB-treated NC/Nga mice by reducing total IgE in serum, and IL-4 and IFN-gamma production by activated CD4(+) T cells.