The possible regulation mechanism of red light was determined to discover how to retard UVA-induced skin photoaging. Human skin fibroblasts were cultured and irradiated with different doses of UVA, thus creating a photoaging model. Fibroblasts were also exposed to a subtoxic dose of UVA combined with a red light-emitting diode (LED) for five continuous days. Three groups were examined: control, UVA and UVA plus red light. Cumulative exposure doses of UVA were 25 J cm(-2), and the total doses of red light were 0.18 J cm(-2). Various indicators were measured before and after irradiation, including cell morphology, viability, β-galactosidase staining, apoptosis, cycle phase, the length of telomeres and the protein levels of photoaging-related genes. Red light irradiation retarded the cumulative low-dose UVA irradiation-induced skin photoaging, decreased the expression of senescence-associated β-galactosidase, upregulated SIRT1 expression, decreased matrix metalloproteinase MMP-1 and the acetylation of p53 expression, reduced the horizon of cell apoptosis and enhanced cell viability. Furthermore, the telomeres in UVA-treated cells were shortened compared to those of cells in the red light groups. These results suggest that red light plays a key role in the antiphotoaging of human skin fibroblasts by acting on different signaling transduction pathways.