The skin and its outer epidermis layer in particular, prevent access of various environmental agents including potential allergens, irritants, carcinogens, ultraviolet radiation and microbes. Cells in the epidermis make a significant contribution to innate as well as adaptive immune reactions in skin. The skin immunity thus provides a biologic defense in response to hazardous environmental agents. Although proteomics has been utilized to establish skin proteomes and investigate skin responses to some environmental agents, it has not been extensively used to address the complexity of skin responses to various environments. This review summarizes cutaneous genes and proteins that have been characterized as related to skin exposure to environmental agents. In parallel, this review emphasizes functional proteomics and systems biology, which are believed to be an important future direction toward characterizing the skin proteome-environmental interaction and developing successful therapeutic strategies for skin diseases caused by environmental insults. © 2005 Future Drugs Ltd.