With the recent availability of novel antibodies against melanoma antigens tyrosinase and MART-1, it is important to validate their usefulness in pathology practice and in screening patients for immunotherapy treatment. In the present study conducted by the Melanoma Cooperative Group of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC-MCG), immunohistochemical staining for gp100 (antibodies NKI-beteb and HMB-45), MART-1 (A103), tyrosinase (T311), and S100 (S100) was compared on formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tumour lesions from 80 patients with 130 malignant melanoma lesions, comprising 44 primary tumours, 18 locoregional metastases, 41 lymph node metastases, and 27 visceral metastases from the lung, liver, and brain. A score between 0 and 5 was allocated to each immunohistochemically stained section. These scores were evaluated in a statistical analysis. S100 was by far the most sensitive marker in all four types of lesions tested. Apart from a significantly better performance for T311 in primary melanomas compared with HMB-45, no significant differences were observed between the four remaining antigens tested. Three settings were next investigated to determine whether the expression of melanoma antigens decreases with tumour progression. First, within the primary melanomas, only NKI-beteb and A103 staining showed a nearly significant negative correlation with Clark's level of invasion and a similar tendency was observed for these antibodies with Breslow thickness. Second, when comparing primary melanoma-metastasis pairs from the same patient, lymph node metastases showed less staining with NKI-beteb, HMB-45, A103, and T311, at a level near significance. This difference was not significant when comparing the primary tumour with visceral metastases, probably due to the lower numbers of pairs. Third, regarding tumour progression from primary melanoma to locoregional, to lymph node, to visceral metastasis, a significant decrease with progression was found only for T311. The apparently stable expression of most of the melanoma antigens, and the small contribution of decreased expression in melanoma tumour progression, supports the rationale for immunotherapy based on the melanoma immunogens gp100, MART-1, and tyrosinase.