Aberrant function of protein kinases has been implicated in the development of melanoma. In an effort to define the molecular events involved in initiation and progression of this malignancy, we used RT-PCR to identify protein kinases in both normal and transformed melanocytes. Collectively, we identified seven clones corresponding to previously characterized protein kinases (JAK-1, TYK02, AXL/UFO, IGF1-R, KDR and FER) as well as the recently identified MLK-3/PTK1 protein kinase. Northern analysis was used to determine the expression pattern of each protein kinase in both normal melanocytes and a variety of melanoma cell lines. Relatively abundant levels of UFO/AXL and KDR mRNAs were observed in a subset of the melanoma cell lines whereas most of the remaining protein kinases were expressed at similar levels in both normal and transformed melanocytes.