For toxicologists who are in any way associated with skin sensitisation, the last two decades have seen a series of fundamental changes. We have migrated from old-style guinea-pig assays, via the refined and reduced Local Lymph Node Assay (LLNA), to witness the imminent dominance of in vitro and in silico methods. Yet, over the same period, the use of the output data for human safety assurance has evolved from 'black box' risk assessment, via the quantitative risk assessment enabled by the LLNA measurement of potency, to a new period of relative uncertainty. This short review will endeavour to address these topics, all the while keeping a focus on three essential principles: a) that skin sensitisation potential is intrinsic in the molecular structure of the chemical; b) that test methods should have a mechanistic foundation; and finally c) that the only reason for undertaking any skin sensitisation work has to be the protection of human health.
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