Physical contact between melanocytes and keratinocytes is a prerequisite for melanosome transfer to occur, but cellular signals induced during or after contact are not fully understood. Herein, it is shown that interactions between melanocyte and keratinocyte plasma membranes induced a transient intracellular calcium signal in keratinocytes that was required for pigment transfer. This intracellular calcium signal occurred due to release of calcium from intracellular stores. Pigment transfer observed in melanocyte-keratinocyte co-cultures was inhibited when intracellular calcium in keratinocytes was chelated. We propose that a 'ligand-receptor' type interaction exists between melanocytes and keratinocytes that triggers intracellular calcium signalling in keratinocytes and mediates melanin transfer.