UVB exposure of skin results in various biologic responses either through direct or indirect damage to DNA and non-DNA cellular targets via the formation of free radicals, reactive oxygen species (ROS) and inflammation. Bucillamine [N-(2-mercapto-2-methylpropionyl)-l-cysteine] is a cysteine-derived compound that can replenish endogenous glutathione due to its two donatable thiol groups, and functions as an antioxidant. In this study, we investigated the effects of bucillamine on UVB-induced photodamage using the SKH-1 hairless mouse model. We have demonstrated that UVB exposure (two consecutive doses, 230 mJ cm−2) on the dorsal skin of SKH-1 mice induced inflammatory responses (edema, erythema, dermal infiltration of leukocytes, dilated blood vessels) and p53 activation as early as 6 h after the last UVB exposure. Bucillamine pretreatment (20 mg kg−1 of body weight, administered subcutaneously) markedly attenuated UVB-mediated inflammatory responses and p53 activation. We have also demonstrated that the stabilization and upregulation of p53 by UVB correlated with phosphorylation of Ser-15 and Ser-20 residues of p53 protein and that bucillamine pretreatment attenuated this effect. We propose that bucillamine has potential to be effective as a photoprotective agent for the management of pathologic conditions elicited by UV exposure.