In vitro human skin fibroblasts aging was characterized by a continuous increase of collagenase mRNA levels. On the contrary, TIMP-1 mRNA level decreased only at late passages (> 65% of proliferative life span). Type I and III mRNA levels showed a high variability depending on cell strains studied. However, type I and III collagen expressions varied parallely. All-trans retinoic acid (RA) decreased collagenase expression and stimulated TIMP-1 expression. Under RA action, high variability in mRNAs levels encoding type I and III collagens was observed with HSF passages. However, RA tended to correct variations in collagens expressions observed along HSF life span.