We studied the effect of N-(6-aminohexyl)-5-chloro-1-napthalenesulfonamide (W-7) on ultraviolet radiation (UVR)-induced melanogenesis (tanning) in Skh:HR2 pigmented hairless mice. Topically pretreated mice were exposed to subminimal edematogenic as well as edematogenic UVR doses to establish whether W-7-UVR-induced edema prophylaxis allows increased melanogenesis while preventing edema. Ultraviolet light-irradiated vehicle control animals developed visible tans; however, both W-7-treated groups failed to tan. Topical W-7 before UVR exposure inhibited UVR induction of dopa oxidase activity in melanocytes by 49% (P=0.029) and inhibited UVR-induced deposition of melanin in the epidermis by 88% (P=0.006). Topical W-7 blocked 23% of the UVR but this blockage could not account for the inhibition of dopa oxidase and melanization. We conclude that, in addition to preventing edema, W-7 inhibits UVR-induced melanogenesis, possibly by affecting Ca2+-calmodulin and/or protein kinase C-dependent processes.