The quantitative alterations of hyaluronan and dermatan sulfate in the upper dermis (fibrous tissue) and the lower dermis (adipose tissue) of the hairless mouse skin chronically exposed to the UV irradiation as solar-simulating irradiation (lambda(max) 352 nm, UV distribution: 300-310 nm, 0.9%; 310-320 nm, 2.0%; 320-420 nm, 97.1%) were evaluated. Hyaluronan and dermatan sulfate contents in each part of dermis were determined as follows: skin sections on a glass slide prepared by histological technique were processed into the upper dermis and the lower dermis with a small surgical knife, and treated with chondroitinase ABC and ACII in the presence of bacterial collagenase. The resulting unsaturated disaccharides were determined by HPLC method. By applying this method to the UV-irradiated hairless mouse skin, it was found that the chronic UV irradiation increased dermatan sulfate in the upper dermis, whereas an increase of hyaluronan content was not statistically significant. In the lower dermis, on the contrary, both hyaluronan and dermatan sulfate contents remarkably increased as compared with the control mice. Furthermore, the histological study showed the accumulation of the collagen fibers in the lower dermis of the UV-irradiated hairless mouse skin following the disappearance of adipocytes. These findings indicate that the increases of glycosaminoglycan contents in the UV-irradiated skin are related to the accumulation of the extracellular matrix components in the lower dermis.