Sulfur mustard [bis-2-chloroethyl sulfide] is a vesicating agent first used as a weapon of war in WWI. It causes debilitating blisters at the epidermal-dermal junction and involves molecules that are also disrupted by junctional epidermolysis bullosa (JEB) and other blistering skin diseases. Despite its recurring use in global conflicts, there is still no completely effective treatment. We have shown by imaging human keratinocytes in cell culture and in intact epidermal tissues that the basal cells of skin contain well-organized molecules (keratins K5/K14, α6β4 integrin, laminin 5 and α3β1 integrin) that are early targets of sulfur mustard. Disruption and collapse of these molecules is coincident with nuclear displacement, loss of functional asymmetry, and loss of polarized mobility. The progression of this pathology precedes basal cell detachment by 8-24 h, a time equivalent to the “clinical latent phase” that defines the extant period between agent exposure and vesication. Our images indicate that disruption of adhesion-complex molecules also impairs cytoskeletal proteins and the integration of structures required for signal transduction and tissue repair. We have recently developed an optical system to test this hypothesis, i.e., to determine whether and how the early disruption of target molecules alters signal transduction. This environmentally controlled on-line system provides a nexus for real-time correlation of imaged lesions with DNA microarray analysis, and for using multiphoton microscopy to facilitate development of more effective treatment strategies.