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Abstract— Ultraviolet radiation of 220–300 nm is known to produce cyclobutyl pyrimidine dimers in extracellular DNA, in bacteria, and in mammalian cells in culture. The formation in vivo of such dimers in mammalian skin has remained inferential. We report that one of the important and recognizable biologic events that occurs in mammalian skin during irradiation is the formation of thymine dimers. [3H]-labelled thymidine was applied to the epilated skin of guinea pigs to label their DNA. Animals were irradiated individually, using wavelengths of either 254, 285–350, or 320–400 nm. Immediately after irradiation, epidermis was separated from the rest of the skin and homogenized; DNA and RNA were isolated. Irradiation with wavelengths of 285–350 nm, which included the sunburn-producing spectrum (i.e., 290–320 nm), produced thymine dimers (1·7–2·6 per cent of the total [3H]-thymine incorporated into DNA). Irradiation with 254nm also produced fewer dimers (0·46–1·2 percent); and 320–400 nm produced none. The dimer could be cleaved by 250 nm radiation to form thymine. The epidermal cell damage by ultraviolet radiation, particularly by the sunburn-producing spectrum (290–320 nm), may be related to the formation of such dimers.