Recent data suggested an increased frequency of KIT aberrations in mucosal melanomas, whereas c-KIT in most types of cutaneous melanomas does not appear to be of pathogenetic importance. However, studies investigating the status of the KIT gene in larger, well-characterised groups of patients with mucosal melanomas are lacking. We analysed 44 archival specimens of 39 well-characterised patients with mucosal melanomas of different locations. c-KIT protein expression was determined by immunhistochemistry, KIT gene mutations were analysed by PCR amplification and DNA sequencing of exons 9, 11, 13, 17 and 18. c-KIT protein expression could be shown in 40 out of 44 (91%) tumours in at least 10% of tumour cells. DNA sequence analysis of the KIT was successfully performed in 37 patients. In 6 out of 37 patients (16%) KIT mutations were found, five in exon 11 and one in exon 18. The presence of mutations in exon 11 correlated with a significant stronger immunohistochemical expression of c-KIT protein (P=0.015). Among the six patients with mutations, in two patients the primary tumour was located in the head/neck region, in three patients in the genitourinary tract and in one patient in the anal/rectal area. In conclusion, KIT mutations can be found in a subset of patients with mucosal melanomas irrespective of the location of the primary tumour. Our data encourage therapeutic attempts with tyrosine kinase inhibitors blocking c-KIT in these patients.