The CDKN2 gene, encoding the cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor p16, is a tumour suppressor gene involved in melanoma and maps to chromosome band 9p22. Mutations or interstitial deletions of this gene have been found both in the germline of familial melanoma cases and somatically in melanoma cell lines. Previous mutation analyses of melanoma cell lines have indicated a high frequency of C:G to T:A transitions, with all of these mutations occurring at dipyrimidine sites. Including three melanoma cell lines carrying tandem CC to TT mutations, the spectrum of mutations so far reported indicates a possible role for u.v. radiation in the mutagenesis of this gene in some tumours. To further examine this hypothesis we have characterised mutations of the CDKN2 gene in 30 melanoma cell lines. Nineteen lines carried complete or partial homozygous deletions of the gene. Of the remaining cell lines, eight were shown by direct sequencing of PCR products from exon 1 and exon 2 to carry a total of nine different mutations of CDKN2. Two cell lines carried tandem CC to TT mutations and a high rate of C:G to T:A transitions was observed. This study provides further evidence for the role of u.v. light in the genesis of melanoma, with one target being the CDKN2 tumour suppressor gene.