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Summary Skin hyperpigmentation is caused by the overproduction of melanin pigment, which is synthesized by the action of tyrosinase. We recently reported that aloesin inhibits tyrosinase activity. The present study was undertaken to test the inhibitory effect of aloesin on pigmentation in human skin after UV radiation. Experimental subjects were UV-irradiated (210 mJ) on the inner forearm. UV-irradiated regions were assigned to four groups: vehicle control, aloesin treated, arbutin treated, and aloesin and arbutin treated. Aloesin and/or arbutin were administered four times a day for 15 days. Aloesin treatment suppressed pigmentation by 34%, arbutin by 43.5%, and the cotreatment by 63.3% compared with the control (n = 15; P < 0.05). Moreover, aloesin treatment showed pigmentation suppression in a dose-dependent manner (n = 7; P < 0.05). These results raise the possibility that aloesin may be used as an agent that inhibits melanin formation induced by UV radiation.