In poeciliid fish, melanoma of different degrees of malignancy can be produced by crossing specific genotypes. For a detailed investigation of the processes leading to proliferation or differentiation of the melanoma cells, it is necessary to establish cell cultures. The aim of the present study was to find out the optimal conditions for initiating and culturing poeciliid fish cells for the purpose of establishing cell cultures of melanoma. The optimal method was developed by using small pieces of late embryos as starting material and includes: (a) dispersion of tissue by mild stepwise treatment with a trypsin-EDTA mixture at low temperature; (b) culture of cells in the complex medium 199; (c) supplementation of medium with high percentage (20%) of fetal bovine serum; and (d) stabilization of pH by buffering the medium with HEPES. Under these conditions, primary and secondary cultures of embryonic cells have been initiated. An epithelial-like cell line has been subcultured for more than 80 passages. The method developed for embryonic tissues was used to start cell cultures from melanoma of platyfish-swordtail hybrids. Until now, only cells of rapidly growing malignant albino melanoma could be maintained in primary cultures. Secondary cultures could not be initiated since the melanoma cells tended to differentiate and stopped growing before a confluent monolayer was formed.