Stress-induced premature senescence (SIPS) has been proposed as an in-vitro model for testing the long-term effects of stressful events and to find molecules/natural extracts that protect against such stress. Premature senescence of human skin diploid fibroblasts (HDFs) can be induced by repeated subcytotoxic exposure to UVB, with the appearance of so-called biomarkers of senescence such as growth arrest, senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity, senescence-associated gene overexpression and the common 4977-bp mitochondrial DNA deletion. This model of UVB-induced premature senescence has been acknowledged as a robust in-vitro model in photoageing research. In this study, the potential anti-photoageing effects of a series of algal extracts were tested. The appearance of the biomarkers of UVB-induced premature senescence of HDFs was studied with or without algal extracts. One algal extract was shown to be particularly protective against UVB-induced SIPS. The results obtained here reinforce the notion that UVB-induced premature senescence of HDFs can be used to screen potential anti-photoageing compounds. © 2006 The Authors.