Abstract— Reactive oxygen species are considered to play an important role in cutaneous pathology. Enzymic and non-enzymic antioxidants can prevent oxidative damage but may be overcome by strong pro-oxidative stimuli. The acute effect of a single exposure to near ultraviolet (UVA)/visible radiation (> 320 nm) on various skin antioxidants was examined in hairless mice immediately after irradiation. Impairment of cutaneous catalase and glutathione reductase activity was observed. Superoxide dismu-tase and glutathione peroxidase were not significantly influenced. Inhibition of catalase may render skin more susceptible to the damaging effects of hydrogen peroxide and its reaction products such as the hydroxyl radical. Partially diminished glutathione reductase activity is not accompanied by a change in reduced/oxidized glutathione level immediately after irradiation. There was a tendential (not statistically significant) decrease in cutaneous tocopherol, ubiquinol + ubiquinone 9 and ascorbic acid levels, either indicating direct photodestruction or consumption by reaction products of photooxidative stress. This partial impairment of the cutaneous antioxidant defense system by near ultraviolet/visible light, showing that the most susceptible component in skin is catalase, suggests possible pharmacological interventions.