Exposure of skin to UV radiation can cause diverse biological effects, including induction of inflammation, alteration in cutaneous immune cells and impairment of contact hypersensitivity (CHS) responses. Our laboratory has demonstrated that oral feeding as well as topical application of a polyphenolic fraction isolated from green tea (GTP) affords protection against the carcinogenic effects of UVB (280-320 nm) radiation. In this study, we investigated whether GTP could protect against UVB-induced immunosuppression and cutaneous inflammatory responses in C3H mice. Immunosuppression was assessed by contact sensitization with 2,4-dinitrofluorobenzene applied to UVB-irradiated skin (local suppression) or to a distant site (systemic suppression), while double skin-fold swelling was used as the measure of UVB-induced inflammation. Topical application of GTP (1-6 mg/animal), 30 min prior to or 30 min after exposure to a single dose of UVB (2 kJ/m2) resulted in significant protection against local (25-90%) and systemic suppression (23-95%) of CHS and inflammation in mouse dorsal skin (70-80%). These protective effects were dependent on the dose of GTP employed; increasing the dose (1-6 mg/animal) resulted in an increased protective effect (25-93%). The protective effects were also dependent on the dose of UVB (2-32 kJ/m2). Among the four major epicatechin derivatives present in GTP, (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate, the major constituent in GTP, was found to be the most effective in affording protection against UVB-caused CHS and inflammatory responses. Our study suggests that green tea, specifically polyphenols present therein, may be useful against inflammatory dermatoses and immunosuppression caused by solar radiation.