In previous studies, we showed that green tea and black tea extracts and their major polyphenolic constituents protect against UVB light-induced carcinogenesis in murine skin. All of these studies required chronic administration of tea extracts or specific constituents either topically or orally. However, it is not known whether acute or subchronic administration of black tea extracts or constituents can ameliorate UVB-induced early effects in skin. In the present study, cultured keratinocytes and mouse and human skin were employed to assess the effect of both oral and topical administration of standardized black tea extract (SBTE) and its two major polyphenolic subfractions namely BTF1 and BTF2 against UVB-induced photodamage. In SKH-1 hairless mice, topical application of SBTE (0.2 mg/cm2) prior to UVB exposure (180 mJ/cm2) resulted in 40% reduced incidence and 64% reduced severity of etythema and 50% reduction in skinfold thickness by day 6 when compared to nontreated UVR-exposed animals. The SBTE was also effective in protecting against UVB-induced erythema in human volunteers. Administration of SBTE 5 min after UVB irradiation was similarly effective in reducing UVB-induced inflammation in both murine and human skin. The major polyphenolic subfractions, BTF1 and BTF2, were also effective in protecting in mouse skin. The SBTE subfractions inhibited UVB-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). The UVB irradiation of human epidermoid carcinoma cells resulted in 3.3-fold induction of tyrosine phosphorylation of EGFR. Pretreatment with BTF1 and BTF2 reduced tyrosine phosphorylation of EGFR by 53% and 31%, respectively. The UVB-mediated enhanced expression of the early response genes, c-fos and c-jun in human epidermal keratinocytes was reduced in a dose-dependent manner by SBTE. Topical application of SBTE was also effective in reducing accumulation of c-fos and p53 proteins by 82% and 78%, respectively, in UVB-exposed mouse skin. These data provide evidence that constituents of black tea can abrogate UVB-induced erythema and associated early events in murine and human skin.