In prior studies we and others have shown that oral feeding of a polyphenolic fraction isolated from green tea (GTP) or water extract of green tea affords protection against ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation-induced carcinogenesis in SKH-1 hairless mice (Wang et al., Carcinogenesis 12, 1527-1530, 1991). It is known that exposure of murine skin to UVB radiation results in cutaneous edema, depletion of the antioxidant-defense system and induction of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) and cyclooxygenase activities. In this study we assessed the protective effect of GTP on these UVB radiation-caused changes in murine skin. Oral feeding of 0.2% GTP (wt/vol) as the sole source of drinking water for 30 days to SKH-1 hairless mice followed by irradiation with UVB (900 mJ/cm2) resulted in significant protection against UVB radiation-caused cutaneous edema (P < 0.0005) and depletion of the antioxidant-defense system in epidermis (P < 0.01-0.02). The oral feeding of GTP also resulted in significant protection against UVB radiation-caused induction of epidermal ODC (P < 0.005-0.01) and cyclooxygenase activities (P < 0.0001) in a time-dependent manner. Our data indicate that the inhibition of UVB radiation-caused changes in these markers of tumor promotion in murine skin by GTP may be one of the possible mechanisms of chemopreventive effects associated with green tea against UVB-induced tumorigenesis. The results of this study suggest that green tea, specifically polyphenols present therein, may be useful against inflammatory responses associated with the exposure of skin to solar radiation.