In 1988, Avon Products, Inc. initiated a program, through the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, designed to attract investigators from academia to generate new knowledge regarding allergic contact dermatitis. The expressed intent was to use that information to develop an in vitro alternative to animal testing for evaluating the contact sensitizing potential of cosmetics, personal hygiene products, and therapeutic agents that might come in contact with the skin. To date, a total of eight scientists have been awarded grants through this program. Alternative methodologies have focussed on quantitative structural-activity relationships of the hap tens, the cytokine response induced in cultured keratinocytes by haptens, contact allergen-induced alterations in adhesion molecules on keratinocytes and epidermal Langerhans cells, and hapten mediated T cell activation by Langerhans cells. The results indicate that the program has been highly successful in accomplishing its objectives. Through this cooperation between scientists in academia and industry, significant progress has been made that will ultimately result in the intended goal of developing in vitro alternatives to animals in the premarketing evaluation of topically applied commercial products.