This review focuses primarily on the beneficial effects for human health of exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR). UVR stimulates anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive pathways in skin that modulate psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and vitiligo; suppresses cutaneous lesions of graft-versus-host disease; and regulates some infection and vaccination outcomes. While polymorphic light eruption and the cutaneous photosensitivity of systemic lupus erythematosus are triggered by UVR, polymorphic light eruption also frequently benefits from UVR-induced immunomodulation. For systemic diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, asthma, schizophrenia, autism, and cardiovascular disease, any positive consequences of UVR exposure are more speculative, but could occur through the actions of UVR-induced regulatory cells and mediators, including 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D3, interleukin-10, and nitric oxide. Reduced UVR exposure is a risk factor for the development of several inflammatory, allergic, and autoimmune conditions, including diseases initiated in early life. This suggests that UVR-induced molecules can regulate cell maturation in developing organs. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Pathology: Mechanisms of Disease Volume 14 is January 24, 2019. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.