Atomic layer deposition (ALD) was used to fabricate Al 2O 3 recombination barriers in solid-state dye-sensitized solar cells (ss-DSSCs) employing an organic hole transport material (HTM) for the first time. Al 2O 3 recombination barriers of varying thickness were incorporated into efficient ss-DSSCs utilizing the Z907 dye adsorbed onto a 2 μm-thick nanoporous TiO 2 active layer and the HTM spiro-OMeTAD. The impact of Al 2O 3 barriers was also studied in devices employing different dyes, with increased active layer thicknesses, and with substrates that did not undergo the TiCl 4 surface treatment. In all instances, electron lifetimes (as determined by transient photovoltage measurements) increased and dark current was suppressed after Al 2O 3 deposition. However, only when the TiCl 4 treatment was eliminated did device efficiency increase; in all other instances efficiency decreased due to a drop in short-circuit current. These results are attributed in the former case to the similar effects of Al 2O 3 ALD and the TiCl 4 surface treatment whereas the insulating properties of Al 2O 3 hinder charge injection and lead to current loss in TiCl 4-treated devices. The impact of Al 2O 3 barrier layers was unaffected by doubling the active layer thickness or using an alternative ruthenium dye, but a metal-free donor-π-acceptor dye exhibited a much smaller decrease in current due to its higher excited state energy. We develop a model employing prior research on Al 2O 3 growth and dye kinetics that successfully predicts the reduction in device current as a function of ALD cycles and is extendable to different dye-barrier systems. © This journal is the Owner Societies 2012.