A multicentre clinical trial has been conducted to assess the efficacy and safety of tretinoin 0.05% cream (Retin-A) in the treatment of photo-damaged Australian skin. Subjects with cutaneous facial photodamage were randomised to treatment with tretinoin (62) or vehicle (63) cream. After an initial two week run-in, all subjects applied the cream to the face, neck and left forearm/hand, once nightly for 24 weeks. Changes in clinical signs of photodamage and parameters of cutaneous irritation were assessed by investigators using a 7 point scale, whilst changes in signs of photodamage were rated by subjects using a 5 point scale. Changes in skin biopsies and silicone skin surface replicas were also assessed. Significant improvements in skin wrinkles, mottled hyperpigmentation, laxity, lentigines and roughness of tretinoin treated subjects were noted by investigators. Subjects receiving tretinoin noted significant improvements in skin wrinkles, tightness, colour and pores. Improvement in overall severity of photodamage was significantly greater for tretinoin treated subjects and was progressive over the study period. Histological findings included a significant increase in mean epidermal thickness. Significant topographical changes were not detected in skin surface replica sets. Cutaneous irritation, the most common side effect, was usually mild and transient. We conclude that tretinoin 0.05% cream significantly improved the appearance of photo-damaged skin.