In C57 Bl-6 mice, melanogenesis is strictly coupled to the growth phase of the hair cycle (anagen). To further study this phenomenon of concerted developmental and pigmentary activity, we followed the sequence of tyrosinase (key enzyme of melanogenesis) expression and activity and the presence of the melanosomal protein gp 75 during the development of traumatically induced anagen follicles (days 0 = telogen, and days 1-12, after anagen induction studied). In addition to performing Northern and Western blots for tyrosinase, tyrosine hydroxylase activity (THA) and dopa oxidase activity (DOA) were measured. On day 0, DOA was undetectable, and THA was very low. On days 1 and 2, both activities were undetectable; starting from day 3, they increased rapidly, reaching a plateau on days 8 and 12. DO-positive proteins had apparent molecular weights (MW) of 66-68 kD (days 3-12), 72-74 kD (days 5-12), and 130 kD (days 8 and 12). Western blotting emphasized proteins of MW 66-68 kD (tyrosinase), and 73-75 kD (gp 75); tyrosinase was undetectable on day 0, but already present on days 1 and 2; it increased by day 5 and had reached a plateau on days 8 and 12; gp 75 was undetectable on days 0-2; it was present on day 3, increased by day 5, and reached a plateau on days 8 and 12. Northern blot analysis revealed high levels of tyrosinase mRNA on days 5 and 8, low levels on days 1-3, and none on day 0. These data suggest a highly regulated, time frame-restricted, differential pattern of tyrosinase transcription, translation, and enzyme activity during the different stages of the developing murine anagen follicle, possibly as a result of complex interactions between follicular melanocytes and their environment.