The Notch signaling has been implicated in the regulation of self-renewal of adult stem cells and differentiation of precursors along a specific cell lineage, in normal embryonic development and organogenesis. There is also evidence that signaling through Notch receptors regulate cell proliferation and cell survival in several types of cancer, with opposing results depending on tissue context. No data are available in the literature concerning modulation of the expression of Notch receptors, and their ligands, in human cutaneous malignant melanoma. Here, we have investigated, for the first time, the expression of Notch-1, Notch-2, Jagged-1, Jagged-2 and Delta-like 1 proteins, by immunohistochemistry, in a series of benign and malignant human melanocytic lesions: five common melanocytic nevi, five 'dysplastic nevi' and 20 melanomas (five in situ, five T1-T2, five T3-T4 and five metastatic melanomas). We found that the expression of Notch-1 and Notch-2, as well as Notch ligands, was upregulated in 'dysplastic nevi' and melanomas as compared with common melanocytic nevi. These results indicate that the activation of Notch may represent an early event in melanocytic tumor growth and upregulation of Notch signaling may sustain tumor progression.