Pleurozium schreberi (Brid.) Mitt. and Hylocomium splendens (Hedw.) Schimp. samples from the Finnish Environmental Specimen Bank were used to study the UV-B-absorbing compounds as potential screens of the past radiation environment. The first series from southern and central Finland consisted of samples collected from 18 P. schreberi or H. splendens dominated sites in 1985 and 1995. The second series from four H. splendens dominated sites (two in southern and two in northern Finland) and two P. schreberi dominated sites (one southern and one northern) were from the years 1985, 1990, 1995 and 2000. In the first series, the moss surface area of the analyzed specimens (5 +/- 0.2 mg DW) was smaller in 1995 (40% of both species collected in June) than in 1985 (40% of P. schreberi and 55% of H. splendens collected in September). The methanol-extractable UV-B-absorbing compounds of P. schreberi in 1985 and 1995 measured as absorbance at 10 nm intervals at 280-360 nm per mg DW revealed a negative correlation with reconstructed UV-radiation data. In the second series, the UV-B-absorbing compounds per specific surface area (surface area mm2 per DW) showed significant differences between the years. The highest values in both species were obtained in 1990. In H. splendens, a difference between the southern and northern samples was observed. The preliminary study encouraged the use of environmental specimen bank samples to indicate changes in surface radiation conditions.