Melanocytes are derived from neural crest and migrate along the dorsolateral pathway to colonize the final destination in the skin. Stem cell factor and its receptor c-kit were identified as gene products of Sl and W mutant loci; both of them were known to have defects in melanocytes survival. In this review, we focus on the function of stem cell factor and c-kit in melanocyte migration and survival, which has become clearer in the last decade. By analysis of both molecules in wild-type and white spotting mutant mice, ligand and receptor set were shown to play multiple roles in the development of melanocytes in mouse ontogeny. Functional blockade of c-kit by specific monoclonal antibody illustrated distinct c-kit dependent and independent stages in melanocyte development. Finally, SCF transgene expression demonstrated that part of the c-kit dependent step is regulated by spatiotemporally specific ligand expression and also indicated the presence of c-kit independent melanocyte stem cells in postnatal skin.