A human malignant melanoma maintained in athymic nude mice has been successfully implanted and grown in cyclosporine (Cys)-immunosuppressed Lewis rats. Suspended melanoma cells (10(6)) or solid tumor sections measuring 2-4 mm in diameter were implanted s.c. in rats receiving parenteral Cys doses of 15-50 mg/kg each day for 1 week, and 3 times per week thereafter. Eighty-five percent of solid tumor sections implanted in animals receiving 25 mg/kg resulted in tumor growth, whereas no tumors grew from cell suspension injection sites. The average maximum tumor growth rate was 2 cm3/day, with a doubling time of 8 days. Tumors retained pretransplant gross and microscopic morphology, karyotype, and labeling index. Possible advantages of this model over the athymic nude mouse include greater longevity, larger animal and tumor size, and less stringent aseptic environmental requirements. This model may prove useful for further study of the pathophysiology of melanoma and for testing of new antimelanoma therapies.