Hairless mice (Skh/ hr1 ) were exposed to ultraviolet A (UVA; peak irradiance at 365 nm), or to ultraviolet B (UVB; peak irradiance at 313 nm) radiation. The animals received 12 treatments on alternate days. Connective tissue changes in the skin were monitored by assaying hydroxyproline and desmosine as an indication of collagen and elastin concentrations, respectively. The activities of prolyl hydroxylase and collagen glucosyl-transferase, enzymes participating in the biosynthesis of collagen, were also assayed. The concentration of elastin was significantly increased in mice treated with UVA or UVB. The concentration of collagen was unaffected by the treatments, but the activity of prolyl hydroxylase, reflecting collagen synthetic capacity, was decreased in UVA-treated mice. The collagen glucosyl-transferase activity was unchanged. Irradiation of purified human prolyl hydroxylase with UVA in vitro decreased the enzyme activity at higher doses, but UVB had no effect. The results indicate that definitive changes in the biochemistry of dermal connective tissues can be induced by exposure of mice to UV irradiation.