A cylindrical transparent conductive oxide-less dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) consisting of glass tube/stainless steel mesh–TiO2–dye/gel electrolytes/Pt-Ti rod having capability of self-light trapping is reported. Replacing the glass tube with heat-shrinkable tube to reduce electrolyte gap and optical loss due to light transmission and reflection led to the enhancement in the power conversion efficiency from 2.61% to 3.91%. Profiling of the current distribution measured by laser beam-induced current exhibited nearly the same current in the axial and radial directions, suggesting that light reflection on a cylindrical DSSC does not affect the efficiency seriously. Optimized best DSSC in this novel device architecture gave a short-circuit current density of 11.94 mA/cm2, an open-circuit voltage of 0.71 V and a fill factor of 0.66 leading to the power conversion efficiency of 5.58% at AM 1.5 under simulated solar irradiation. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.