Using antibodies that recognize either tyrosinase, tyrosinase-related protein-1 (TRP1), or tyrosinase-related protein-2 (TRP2, DOPAchrome tautomerase), the quantities of those melanogenic enzymes were analyzed in five melanoma cell lines that possess various degrees of melanin production. All cells except JB/MS-W increased melanin production four to 30 times after 4 d of melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) treatment. Melanin production by JB/MS-W cells was always under background, with or without MSH treatment. There was a positive correlation between quantities and synthetic rates of those melanogenic enzymes and their melanin formation or DOPAchrome tautomerase activities. The activity of a heat-resistant melanogenic inhibitory factor was also analyzed. The results showed, surprisingly, that pigmented cells showed higher levels of melanogenic inhibitors activity. Tyrosinase activity was increased dramatically whereas the level of melanogenic inhibitor was remarkably decreased following MSH treatment. Interestingly, melanogenic inhibitor derived from JB/MS-W cells suppressed not only tyrosinase but also DOPAchrome tautomerase, another enzyme functional in melanin production. These results clearly suggest that melanin production is regulated by a subtle balance between the activities of these enzymes and other factors such as the melanogenic inhibitor.