Ultraviolet (UV) radiation impairs intracellular functions by directly damaging DNA and by indirectly generating reactive oxygen species (ROS), which induce cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. UV radiation can also alter gene expression profiles, including those of mRNA and microRNA (miRNA). The effects of UV radiation on cellular functions and gene expression have been widely documented in human skin cells such as keratinocytes, melanocytes and dermal fibroblasts, but the effect it has on other types of skin cell such as dermal papilla cells, which are crucial in the induction of hair follicle growth, remains unknown. In the current study, the effect of UV radiation on physiological changes and miRNA-based expression profiles in normal human dermal papilla cells (nHDPs) was investigated. UVB radiation of ≥50 mJ/cm2 displayed high cytotoxicity and apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, ROS generation was exhibited in UVB-irradiated nHDPs. Furthermore, using miRNA microarray analysis, it was demonstrated that the expression profiles of 42 miRNAs in UVB-irradiated nHDPs were significantly altered compared with those in the controls (35 upregulated and 7 downregulated). The biological functions of the differentially expressed miRNAs were studied with gene ontology analysis to identify their putative target mRNAs, and were demonstrated to be involved in cell survival- and death-related functions. Overall, the results of the present study provide evidence that miRNA‑based cellular mechanisms may be involved in the UVB-induced cellular response in nHDPs.