Photofrin and 5-aminolevulinic acid are photosensitizers that show promise in the photodynamic treatment of cancer, port-wine stains, atherosclerosis and viral lesions. Photofrin is a mixture of porphyrins which, upon the absorption of light, become temporarily cytotoxic. One side-effect associated with the use of Photofrin is long-term cutaneous photosensitivity. It is possible that topical application of this photosensitizing dye will ameliorate such a side-effect. Another way to avoid the cutaneous photosensitivity in photodynamic therapy is to use 5- aminolevulinic acid, which is a porphyrin precursor that causes an increase in the synthesis and concentration of the photosensitizer protoporphyrin IX. 5-aminolevulinic acid is usually applied topically, and so minimizes cutaneous photosensitivity while maximizing the local protoporphyrin concentration. There are a host of disorders in oral mucosa that are potentially treatable by photodynamic therapy. However, since stratum corneum presents an impermeable barrier to many pharmaceuticals, it is not clear that topical application of the photosensitizer will result in a clinically relevant tissue concentration. We have therefore studied the permeation behavior of Photofrin and 5-aminolevulinic acid by applying them to the surface of ex vivo oral mucosa tissue positioned by a Franz diffusion cell. In order to increase the permeability of the photosensitizer across the stratum corneum, we studied the effects of four different drug carriers: phosphate buffered saline, dimethylsulfoxide, ethanol and Azone with isopropyl alcohol.