The c-MET proto-oncogene encodes the receptor for the Hepatocyte Growth Factor/Scatter Factor, which is known to mediate mitogenic, motogenic and invasive responses of several cell types. We have analysed by immunohistochemistry and biochemically the expression of c-MET in benign and malignant melanocytic lesions. The Met/HGF receptor which in the melanocytic lineage displays the structural features of the authentic receptor was undetectable in tissue melanocytes and in nevocytic nevi. Only four out of 23 primary melanomas scored positive. Expression was increased to a significant level in 17 out of the 44 metastatic lesions examined. The c-MET expression was homogeneous in multiple metastases from the same patients. Comparative analyses showed both lack of correlation with the expression of the tumour progression associated ICAM-1 adhesion molecule and, in 23% of cases, co-expression with the c-KIT encoded receptor. These findings show that the c-MET gene is expressed at late stages of melanoma progression and suggest that the presence of Met/HGF receptor may contribute to the acquisition of an invasive phenotype.