Reproducibility of skin prick testing (SPT) and its modulation by ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation is of clinical interest. Sensitized atopic volunteers (groups A and B, n=21) were prick tested with common commercial allergen solutions (undiluted, diluted 1:10 and diluted 1:100) before, 24 h after one and 24 h after three suberythematous UVB irradiations. Volunteers in group A (n=8) received local UVB irradiation of prick test areas, whereas volunteers in group B (n=13) received whole body UVB irradiation, with prick test areas covered. In group A, the wheal intensities, expressed as the ratio allergen wheal size to histamine wheal size, were decreased by 28% (1:10 dilution) (P=0.01) and 45% (1:100 dilution) (P=0.02) after one UVB irradiation. Flare intensities were decreased by 48% (1:10 dilution) (P=0.03) after three UVB irradiations. In group B, the wheal and flare responses tended to decrease. Possible mechanisms of this short-term suppressive effect of UVB irradiation on SPT reactions include a direct effect on mast cells. It is concluded that UV irradiation, even a single exposure, prior to skin testing may compromise the validity of SPT testing.