Karyotypic analysis, loss of somatic heterozygosity, microcell fusion and cDNA transfection studies have provided compelling evidence that at least one tumour suppressor gene for melanoma resides on chromosome 6. In an attempt to further define the regions to which these putative suppressor genes map, we have carried out loss of heterozygosity (LOH) studies on DNA from 25 fresh melanoma tumours for 9 simple tandem repeat (STR) polymorphism markers spanning chromosome 6. Four samples displayed LOH or homozygosity for all markers studied, indicating that they had lost one homologue of chromosome 6. An additional 3 samples showed LOH for all markers on 6q. Furthermore, 30 melanoma cell lines, for which there were no matching somatic DNA samples, were analyzed for hemizygosity of markers on 6q. One cell line had a homozygous deletion of all markers tested and a further 12 cell lines displayed only one allele for 3 or 4 contiguous markers, indicating that most, if not all of these samples were hemizygous for the region of 6q distal to D6S87. Overall, the rate of LOH on 6q in the 55 melanoma DNAs was 35%, and there were no losses of markers on 6p without concomitant loss of markers on 6q. Two of 5 samples derived from primary melanomas showed LOH, which indicates that LOH for the melanoma suppressor gene on 6q, which maps to a region that contains the SOD2 locus, is a frequent and early event in melanoma tumorigenesis.