This article focuses on recent advances in melanocyte biology and physiology. The major function of this neural crest-derived cell is the production of melanins. A "three enzyme theory" in the initiation of pigmentation is put forward and backed up by recent findings. A receptor-independent role for alpha-MSH and the cofactor (6R)-l-erythro-5,6,7,8-terahydrobiopterin (6BH(4)) in the control of tyrosinase is described. The importance of intramelanosomal pH for melanogenesis is covered. Finally, the redundancy of the cAMP and IP3/DAG/calcium signal in melanocytes together with the downstream events are highlighted. The main message of this article is that the intracellular H(2)O(2)- redox-equilibrium controls melanocyte function in a concentration-dependent manner.