The use of endogenously created porphyrins as an alternative to photosensitizer injection for photodynamic therapy (PDT) of cancer is a rapidly evolving area of study. In-situ accumulation of protoporphyrin-IX (PpIX) by hemebiosynthesis inhibition represents a novel method for PDT of cancer cells. The kinetics of PpIX accumulation and cutaneous tumor regression in mice was studied using lead (a known and effective inhibitor of ferrochelatase). Cutaneous tumors were exposed to various doses of ferrochelatase enzyme inhibitor (lead) and to different durations and doses of visible light. The maximum increase in PpIX levels (blood, skin and tumor) was observed 48 h after the parenteral administration of second injection of lead within a period of 1 month. The maximum tumor regression was observed in mice that were exposed to visible light at a light dose of 648 J/cm2 (1 h exposure in four sessions of 15 min, with a gap of 10 min between each exposure). Continuous treatment for 6 consecutive days resulted in almost complete regression of the tumors in most of the animals. Histopathological sections of tumors after light exposure showed necrotic tissue with degenerated lymphocytes, monocytes, and neutrophils. Since the ferrochelatase inhibitor (lead) used in the present study is toxic, the search must continue for a safe, non-toxic inhibitor to enhance sensitizer-mediated PDT. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.