This study aimed to develop and pilot test a brief skin cancer risk assessment tool (BRAT), a self-administered instrument that can be reliably used to assess skin cancer risk. To develop the BRAT, we critically reviewed published literature on risk factors; formulated a draft questionnaire; pilot tested the questionnaire; and retested 1 month later. The BRAT items address the key risk factors for melanoma and other keratinocyte skin cancers: ethnicity, personal and family history of skin cancer, mole count, freckles, childhood residence, sunburn history, and sun sensitivity factors (skin color, natural hair color, ease of sunburning and tanning). One hundred sixty-five persons completed the initial BRAT pilot study, and 52 additional people at moderate- or high-risk completed a second BRAT pilot study. Results were as follows: using a dichotomous risk measure, about 90% of subjects would be correctly classified at baseline and follow-up. Weighted kappa for the total BRAT score (0.41-0.68) and for individual items (0.57-0.99) were fair to good, as were correlation coefficients. The BRAT has acceptable to good reproducibility. Reliability statistics compared favorably with those reported in the literature for similar measures.