The safety and efficacy of topical E6005, a novel phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitor, in Japanese adults with atopic dermatitis were evaluated. A total of 78 patients were randomized to receive either the 0.2% E6005 ointment or vehicle control (without E6005) at an allocation ratio of 2:1. The randomization phase of 4 weeks was followed by an extension phase of 8 weeks. In the extension phase, all 67 subjects who completed the randomization phase were treated with 0.2% E6005 ointment. The 4-week application of topical E6005 twice daily was safe and well tolerated. The safety profile for up to 12 weeks was similar to that for the first 4 weeks. No deaths or other serious adverse effects were observed during the entire study period of 12 weeks. Plasma E6005 was undetectable in all subjects at all sampling points while very low plasma concentrations of an E6005 metabolite were detected in 47% of subjects receiving E6005 treatment. At the end of week 4, Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI), Severity Scoring Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD)-objective, SCORAD-C (visual analog scales for pruritus and sleep loss), itch Behavioral Rating Scale, and the severity of the targeted eczematous lesions in the topical E6005 group showed trends toward improvement compared with those in the vehicle group (not statistically significant). However, the group receiving topical E6005 for 12 weeks showed significant score reductions from baselines for EASI (P=0.030), SCORAD-objective (P<0.001) and SCORAD-C (P=0.038). These results further support the development of topical E6005 for the treatment of atopic dermatitis.