Although spine metastasis from melanoma is an uncommon event, it can pose a complex management problem. The presentation and natural history of melanoma metastatic to the spine has not been described in the medical literature. We have conducted a review of the records of 133 patients with melanoma metastatic to the spine in order to obtain retrospective data on demographic information, clinical presentation, disease course and survival. Patients with cutaneous, ocular and mucosal melanoma were all represented, but those with primary cutaneous tumours of the trunk were more prevalent than expected. Other sites of metastatic disease were present in nearly all patients and metastases to other skeletal sites were not unusual. Pain was the most common presenting symptom. The radiographic diagnosis was generally made easily by plain radiographs, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, with the most frequent finding being a destructive lesion. Bone scan gave false-negative results 15% of the time. The median survival for the group was 4 months. It is concluded that melanoma metastatic to the spine represents a late event in the evolution of this illness. Palliation should be the goal of treatment, but symptom management should be individualized, bearing in mind the short anticipated survival of these patients.