Human cutaneous photodamage is a major medical problem that includes premature aging and fragility of the skin. Nonxenografted animal models have not been comparatively evaluated for how well they resemble the changes seen in human skin. Here, we sought to identify a suitable mouse model that recapitulates key anatomic, cellular and molecular responses observed in human skin during acute UV exposure. Adult females from three strains of mice, C57BL/6J, SKH1 and Balb/c were exposed to UVB and then evaluated 3 or 20 h after the last irradiation. Skin from UVB-exposed C57BL/6J mice showed features resembling human photodamage, including epidermal thickening, infiltration of the dermis with inflammatory cells, induction of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) mRNA, accumulation of glycosaminoglycans, particularly hyaluronan in the epidermis and loss of collagen. Hairless SKH1 mouse skin responded similarly, but without any induction of TNF-α mRNA or chondroitin sulfate. Irradiated Balb/c mice were the least similar to humans. Our results in C57BL/6J mice and to a lesser extent in SKH1 mice, show cutaneous responses to a course of UVB-irradiation that mirror those seen in human skin. Proper choice of model is critical for investigating cellular and molecular mechanisms of photodamage and photoaging.