Studies of the photoimmunoprotective properties of sunscreens have produced disparate results. In this study in hairless mice, we compared two UVB absorbers, 2-ethylhexyl-p-methoxycinnamate (2-EHMC) and octyl-N-dimethyl-p-aminobenzoate (o-PABA), individually formulated in a common base lotion with a sunburn protection factor of 6. We measured their capacity to protect against suppression of the contact hypersensitivity (CHS) induced by three daily exposures of the dorsum to 6x the minimal erythemal/edematous dose (MED) of solar-simulated UV radiation (SSUV), in comparison with base lotion-treated mice exposed to 3 x 1 MED of SSUV. All treatments produced a similar minimal erythema. CHS was equally suppressed in mice irradiated through o-PABA and base lotion, but the suppression was significantly reduced in mice irradiated through 2-EHMC. Neither UVB absorber inhibited the epidermal photoisomerization to the immunosuppressive mediator, cis-urocanic acid. However, when mice were treated with exogenous cis-urocanic acid topically on the dorsum, but not when injected subcutaneously on the abdomen, suppression of CHS was observed in o-PABA- and base lotion-treated mice, but not in 2-EHMC-treated mice. Thus, the enhanced immunoprotection in mice irradiated through 2-EHMC apparently resulted from the direct inactivation of epidermal cis-urocanic acid by 2-EHMC. We conclude that comparative assessment of photoimmunoprotection by UV absorbers requires SSUV, erythemally matched exposures and consideration of potential interactions with cutaneous molecules.