Cutaneous and ocular melanomas are due to malignant transformation of neural crest-derived melanocytes. The rising incidence of this tumor in humans has stimulated experiments to devise suitable mouse models. In the past years, transgenic mouse lines have been generated using different oncogenes - Ha-ras, SV40 T antigen (Tag), ret - which develop benign lesions of melanocytes, melanoma, and/or eye tumors. Pigment cell tumors in humans, although rather rare, can also develop from the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a cell layer of neuroectodermal origin. We, therefore, established transgenic models for this ocular tumor. Regulated by the promoter of tyrosinase-related protein-1 (TRP-1), two oncogenes, ret and SV40 Tag, were targeted to the developing RPE in transgenic mice. The TRP-1/ret transgenic mice displayed microphthalmia and benign tumors of the RPE. Expression of SV40 T antigen (TRP-1/Tag) led to malignant tumors, which were invasive and metastasized to inguinal lymph node and spleen.