We have shown previously that topical application of (-)-epigallocatechin- 3-gallate (EGCG), the major polyphenol of green tea, prevents photocarcinogenesis in mice. EGCG prevents UVB-induced immunosuppression by inducing interleukin-12 (IL-12). As immunosuppression is a risk factor for photocarcinogenesis, we investigated the possibility that EGCG also prevents UVB-induced photocarcinogenesis through an IL-12-dependent DNA repair mechanism. To investigate this possibility, we determined the effects of EGCG on photocarcinogenesis in IL-12 knockout (KO) mice using the formation of cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPD) as an indicator of the extent of UVB-induced DNA damage. Topical application of EGCG (1 mg/cm2 skin) prevented photocarcinogenesis in wild-type (C3H/HeN) mice in terms of tumor incidence and tumor multiplicity but did not prevent photocarcinogenesis in IL-12 KO mice. UVB-induced DNA damage, as determined by the formation of CPDs and the number of sunburn cells, was resolved more rapidly in the skin of wild-type mice treated with EGCG than untreated control mice. In contrast, the extent of UVB-induced DNA damage and the numbers of sunburn cells were not significantly different in the EGCG-treated IL-12 KO mice and untreated control mice. In addition, treatment of XPA-proficient human fibroblast cells with EGCG promoted repair of UVB-induced CPDs in a dose-dependent manner but not in an XPA-deficient cells, indicating that the nucleotide excision repair mechanism is involved in EGCG-mediated DNA repair. Taken together, these results indicate for the first time that EGCG can prevent photocarcinogenesis through an EGCG-induced IL-12-dependent DNA repair mechanism. ©2006 American Association for Cancer Research.