Please cite this paper as: A simple assay for the study of human hair follicle damage induced by ionizing irradiation. Experimental Dermatology 2010; 19: e306-e309. Abstract: Due to its rapidly proliferating matrix keratinocytes, the hair follicle is highly sensitive to ionizing irradiation (IR)-induced skin damage and thus an instructive and clinically relevant model organ for investigating the effects of IR on rapidly dividing epithelial-mesenchymal interaction systems. Here, we have assessed the impact of IR on organ-cultured human scalp hair follicles. We show that IR significantly inhibits the proliferation and induces apoptosis of hair follicle matrix keratinocytes, disrupts normal hair follicle pigmentation, and upregulates a number of quantitative toxicity and viability markers (oxidative stress indicators, DNA oxidative damage, LDH release). This introduces human hair follicle organ culture as an excellent novel research tool for radiobiology and invites exploitation as a preclinical assay system for testing candidate radioprotectants. © 2009 John Wiley & Sons A/S.