UVB exposure is well known to induce skin photodamage and photoaging that correlates with qualitative and quantitative deterioration of the dermal extracellular matrix (ECM) because of the upregulation of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). Although inhibitory effects of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) on most MMPs have been reported, the protective role of TIMP-1 against photodamage is poorly understood. To address this, TIMP-1 function was augmented or abolished in a human skin xenograft photodamage model after the confirmation of significantly diminished TIMP-1 expression both in photoaged and intrinsically aged skins. During a chronic UVB exposure regimen, pre-treatment with a lentiviral vector overexpressing TIMP-1 or concomitant administration of an anti-TIMP-1-neutralizing antibody (NAB) led to photoprotection or more severe photodamage, respectively. Overexpression of TIMP-1 resulted in significant inhibition of UVB-induced ECM degradation, as well as suppression of decreased skin elasticity and roughness, whereas the NAB-mediated inhibition of TIMP-1 had opposite effects. Furthermore, UVB-induced production of the pro-inflammatory cytokine, tumor necrosis factor α, was inhibited by TIMP-1 treatment of human keratinocytes. Taken together, these data shed light on the important role of TIMP-1 in protection and recovery from cutaneous photodamage because of its suppression of ECM degradation and inflammation.