For the investigation of the skin irritancy potential of chemicals in an vitro model, it is necessary to have sensitive end-points that predict the effects on native human skin. Our aim was to investigate whether the induction of the proteinase inhibitor SKALP in reconstructed epidermis can be used as a marker. The influence of culture conditions and the effect of topical application of sodium lauryl sulfate and oleic acid on SKALP expression were evaluated using immunohistochemistry and Northern blotting. SKALP expression was induced by serum, epidermal growth factor and fibroblasts. In the presence of retinoic acid and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 SKALP expression was inhibited, whereas supplementation with ascorbic acid and α-tocopherol had no effect. Tape-stripping of excised skin and topical treatment with sodium lauryl sulfate induced SKALP protein expression. Application of sodium lauryl sulfate and oleic acid on reconstructed epidermis also induced SKALP at the protein level but no significant effects could be demonstrated at mRNA levels. In conclusion, SKALP expression, which was increased upon application of sodium lauryl sulfate and oleic acid, can be used as an in vitro end-point for skin irritancy, irrespective of the modifying effects of culture conditions.