This is the first of three chapters that will be progressively published on Pathologica as updating activity of the Italian Study Group of Dermatopathology (GISD), Italian Society of Pathology and Cytology (SIAPeC IAP). The first chapter concerns non-neoplastic hyperpigmented skin lesions and nevi, the second will address the topics of dysplastic nevus, borderline and low malignant potential melanocytic proliferations and the third melanoma in its variants and differential diagnoses with a supplement on the immunohistochemistry and molecular support to diagnostic and prognostic definition of nevi and melanomas. Although we believe that great advances were made in the application of ancillary genetic, immunohistochemical and molecular techniques, for the diagnosis and biological characterization of melanocytic tumors the morphology still remains the gold standard. These chapters are not intended as substitutes or even claim to be compared to the numerous and valuable texts that are also recently published, but they want to present, concisely and quickly available, all of those traits that we believe essential to the histopathological evaluation of a melanocytic lesion. No morphological parameter is exclusive and individually sufficient to make the correct diagnosis of nevus or melanoma but to reach a final conclusive and appropriate interpretation a set of morphological characters must be evaluated and compared. I was lucky enough to be able to examine several thousand cases and to draw lessons from each of these increasing my diagnostic experience. I had a great lesson by my teacher and good friend Prof. Martin C. Mihm Jr of Boston, dermato-pathologist with undisputed international reputation, who, with great passion, patience and friendship, transferred me much of his experience and knowledge and for which I always thank him. Special thanks I would like to address Dr. Agostino Crupi, dermatologist, skin-oncologist and brilliant dermatoscopist who taught me how the diagnosis of melanocytic lesions starts from the clinic examination and the mutual comparison between dermatologist and pathologist is a great richness of knowledge for both. Finally thank to my collaborators Barbara Rubino, Barbara Bruni and Antonella Festa for the large number of material collected in these years at the Pathology Service of the IRCCS Policlinico San Donato and a particular thank to Marco Turina who collaborated in the drafting of this text.
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