The jet fuel jet propulsion fuel 8 (JP-8) has been shown to cause an inflammatory response in the skin, which is characterized histologically by erythema, edema, and hyperplasia. Studies in laboratory animal skin and cultured keratinocytes have identified a variety of changes in protein levels related to inflammation, oxidative damage, apoptosis, and cellular growth. Most of these studies have focused on prolonged exposures and subsequent effects. In an attempt to understand the earliest responses of the skin to JP-8, we have investigated changes in gene expression in the epidermis for up to 8 h after a 1-h cutaneous exposure in rats. After exposure, we separated the epidermis from the rest of the skin with a cryotome and isolated total mRNA. Gene expression was studied with microarray techniques, and changes from sham treatments were analyzed and characterized. We found consistent twofold increases in gene expression of 27 transcripts at 1, 4, and 8 h after the beginning of the 1-h exposure that were related primarily to structural proteins, cell signaling, inflammatory mediators, growth factors, and enzymes. Analysis of pathways changed showed that several signaling pathways were increased at 1 h and that the most significant changes at 8 h were in metabolic pathways, many of which were downregulated. These results confirm and expand many of the previous molecular studies with JP-8. Based on the 1-h changes in gene expression, we hypothesize that the trigger of the JP-8–induced, epidermal stress response is a physical disruption of osmotic, oxidative, and membrane stability which activates gene expression in the signaling pathways and results in the inflammatory, apoptotic, and growth responses that have been previously identified.