Increases in the incidence of cutaneous melanoma during the past few decades has drawn attention to the possible causes of this cancer. Although sunlight exposure has long been suspected of being a contributing factor, direct evidence of its participation has been difficult to obtain using epidemiological approaches. We have used murine models to investigate the possible contributions of UV radiation to the induction and pathogenesis of melanoma. Our studies demonstrate that UV radiation contributes to the induction of melanoma in a variety of ways, including an indirect, local effect on the skin. Recent evidence suggests that this indirect effect is immunologically mediated.