As epidemiological data suggest ultraviolet (UV) radiation to be the major environmental factor for the development of melanoma, we screened this malignancy for UV-specific C right curved arrow T and CC right curved arrow TT DNA mutations as described in squamous and basal cell carcinomas of the skin. Mitochondrial (mt) DNA was addressed which is known to be highly more susceptible for mutations than nuclear DNA. In the mt genome we chose part of the non-coding displacement-loop (D-loop) containing two hypermutable (C)n tracts especially prone for C right curved arrow T and CC right curved arrow TT changes. A total of 69 melanoma resection specimens was investigated by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) electrophoresis, followed by DNA cloning and sequencing. We detected alterations of the mt D-loop fragment in 4/34 (12%) melanoma primary tumours and in 7/35 (20%) cutaneous and subcutaneous metastases which was no statistically higher proportion upon Fisher's exact test (p=0.17). Among these 11 positive cases, 9 exhibited alterations in the (C)n microsatellite sequences indicating microsatellite instability (MSI) of mtDNA (C)n tracts. Besides 7 insertions and 2 deletions of nucleotides, 11 mutations occurred including only 4 UV-specific C right curved arrow T mutations in a nodular melanoma of the skin and in two subcutaneous metastases. CC right curved arrow TT mutations were not detected in any tissue sample. As (C)n tract alterations occurred in 2/9 primary melanomas with subsequent metastasis, whereas all 20 non-metastasizing cutaneous melanomas were not affected, these somatic changes may reflect genomic imbalance during tumour progression and may be useful for the assessment of patients' prognosis.