Previous investigations demonstrated that pyruvate protects human keratinocytes against cell damage stemming from exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. This study endeavoured to elucidate the protective capacity of aromatic pyruvates (e.g., phenylpyruvate (PPyr), 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate (HPPyr), and indole-3-pyruvate (IPyr)) against UVB-induced injury to skin cells, both in vitro and in vivo. Cultured human HaCaT keratinocytes were irradiated with UVB light (60 mJ/cm2) and maintained with or without test compounds (1-25 mM).In addition, the dorsal skin of hairless mice (HR-1) was treated with test compounds (10 μmol) and exposed to UVB light (1 J/cm2) twice [corrected]. The ability of the test compounds to ameliorate UVB-induced cytotoxicity and inflammation was then assessed. Aromatic pyruvates reduced cytotoxicity in UVB-irradiated HaCaT keratinocytes, and also diminished the expression of interleukin 1β (IL-1β) and interleukin 6 (IL-6). IPyr was more efficacious than either PPyr or HPPyr. Furthermore, only IPyr inhibited cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2) expression at both the mRNA and the protein level in UVB-treated keratinocytes. Topical application of IPyr to the dorsal skin of hairless mice reduced the severity of UVB-induced skin lesions, the augmentation of dermal thickness, and transepithelial water loss. Overproduction of IL-1β and IL-6 in response to UVB radiation was also suppressed in vivo by the topical administration of IPyr. These data strongly suggest that IPyr might find utility as a UVB-blocking reagent in therapeutic strategies to lessen UVB-induced inflammatory skin damage.