The aim of this study was to prepare solid lipid microspheres (SLM) of octyl methoxy cinnamate (2-ethylhexyl-p-methoxy cinnamate; OMC) to achieve controlled release, decrease penetration of this UV absorber from skin and improve its photostability. The influence of the carrier on the rate of release was studied in vitro with a cellulose acetate membrane and in vivo from excised rat skin with Franz diffusion cells. The release rate was decreased by up to 13-80% with the SLM formulation. In vivo, penetration of OMC into skin was investigated by HPLC method. It was found out that the rate of penetration is significantly dependent upon the formulation and could be decreased by up to 77% in SLM formulations. When different topical vehicles were compared, OMC was released and penetrated into rat skin more quickly and in greater amount from vehicles containing free OMC than in SLM form. Additionally, photostability was shown to be improved in SLM form. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.