Topical photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a widely used non-invasive treatment for certain non-melanoma skin cancers, permitting treatment of large and multiple lesions with excellent cosmesis. High efficacy is demonstrated for PDT using standardized protocols in non-hyperkeratotic actinic keratoses, Bowen’s disease, superficial basal cell carcinomas (BCC) and in certain thin nodular BCC, with superiority of cosmetic outcome over conventional therapies. Recurrence rates following PDT are typically equivalent to existing therapies, although higher than surgery for nodular BCC. PDT is not recommended for invasive squamous cell carcinoma. Treatment is generally well tolerated, but tingling discomfort or pain is common during PDT. New studies identify patients most likely to experience discomfort and permit earlier adoption of pain-minimization strategies. Reduced discomfort has been observed with novel protocols including shorter photosensitizer application times and in daylight PDT for actinic keratoses.