To elucidate the biological significance of activating mutations of BRAF in human malignant tumors, we performed a mutation analysis using 43 cell lines established from tumors that had developed in several kinds of human organs. Because the same V599E point mutation was observed in three of six melanoma cell lines and no such mutations were observed in other types of cancers, we focused further on melanoma, performed mutation analyses of NRAS, KRAS, CTNNB1, and p16/p14(ARF) in these cell lines, and found one NRAS mutation and three p16/p14(ARF) mutations. We further searched for mutations of BRAF and NRAS in 35 primary sporadic melanomas from 35 Japanese patients and detected the V599E BRAF point mutation in only nine (26%) of them. Significant differences in mutation frequency were observed among four histological subtypes; four (50%) of eight superficially spreading melanoma and five (33%) of 15 acral lentiginous melanoma had the mutation, whereas none of 12 other types (six nodular melanoma, five lentigo melanoma, and one mucosal melanoma) had it. The BRAF mutation was observed frequently even in small lesions, indicating that activation of this gene may be one of the early events in the pathogenesis of some melanomas.