Hydrophilic photolabile protecting groups (PPGs) for hydroxyl protection have been developed. The new PPGs are derived from 3-(dimethylamino)trityl (DMATr) by replacing the two methyl groups with two hydrophilic butyryl groups. The new PPG reagents can be readily prepared and installed. They are stable in the dark but can be removed cleanly and efficiently in aqueous environments upon irradiation with a UV lamp or sunlight. © 2012 The Royal Society of Chemistry and Owner Societies.