Photomechanical waves (PW) are generated by Q-switched or mode-locked lasers. Ablation is a reliable method for generating PWs with consistent characteristics. Depending on the laser wavelength and target material, PWs with different parameters can be generated which allows the investigation of PWs with cells and tissue. PWs have been shown to permeabilize the stratum corneum (SC) in vivo and facilitate the transport of drugs into the skin. Once a drug has diffused into the dermis it can enter the vasculature, thus producing a systemic effect. Fluorescence microscopy of biopsies show that 40-kDa molecules can be delivered to a depth of > 300 micrometers into the viable skin of rats. Many important drugs such as insulin, and erythropoietin are smaller or comparable in size, making the PWs attractive for transdermal drug delivery. There are three possible pathways through the SC: Transappendageal via hair follicles or other appendages, transcellular through the corneocytes, and intercellular via the extracellular matrix. The intracellular route appears to be the most likely pathway of drug delivery through the SC.