Six cases of spiny keratoderma were analyzed with hair specific antikeratin antibodies (AE13, AE14) and by electron microscopy. The keratotic column exhibited a different keratin birefringence and the underlying viable epidermis was less eosinophilic than the surrounding epidermis. AE13, which is specific for hair cortex, was positive in the lower column and variably positive in the viable epidermis, often beyond the columnar lesion. AE14 was negative in the lesion. Electron microscopy demonstrated features of keratinization of normal hair cortex, i.e. by the accretion of keratin filaments without production of keratohyalin or trichohyalin granules. Cementsomes (lamellar granules) and marginal bands were not produced as they are not formed in normal cortical keratinization. It was suggested that spiny keratoderma represents an ectopic hair formation of palms and soles.