Melatonin, a lipophilic compound synthesized and released from the pineal gland, effectively acts against ultraviolet radiation (UVR), one of the main inducers of epidermal damage, skin cancer, inflammation, and DNA photo damage. One of the common known stress protein induced by UVR is heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70), highly expressed in human keratinocytes, providing cellular resistance to such stressors. Here, using human full-thickness skin and normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEK), we investigated the interaction of melatonin and Hsp70 toward UVR-induced inflammatory and apoptotic responses. The following observations were made: (i) UVR upregulated Hsp70 gene expression in human epidermis while melatonin significantly inverted this effect, (ii) similar patterns of regulation were observed within Hsp70 protein level, and (iii) mechanistic studies involving silencing of Hsp70 RNA (Hsp70 siRNA) showed prominent decrease of IκB-α (an inhibitor of NF-κB) and enhanced gene expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, Casp-1) and pro-apoptotic protein (Casp-3) in NHEK. Parallel investigation using melatonin (10(-3) m) significantly inverted these responses regardless depletion of Hsp70 RNA suggesting a compensatory action of this compound in the defense mechanisms. Our findings combined with data reported so far thus enrich existing knowledge about the potent anti-apoptotic and anti-inflammatory action of melatonin.