A case-control study of 100 cases of malignant melanoma (MM) and 100 matched controls has been completed. The male:female ratio of patients with MM was 1:2.4, which is similar to that found in other European studies and the mean age was 49.1 years (range 19-82 years). Significant differences were seen between cases and controls for area of residence and social class, more cases than controls came from rural areas (P = 0.007) and cases were of higher social class than controls (P = 0.003) and had attained a higher level of education (P = 0.005). Phenotypic differences between cases and controls were also observed, namely cases were more likely to have light coloured (blue/grey/green) eyes (P = 0.003) and to have had fair/red hair at age 20 (P = 0.004). Cases were also more likely than controls to dislike exposure to hot sun (P = 0.008) to report sunburning easily (P = 0.001) and to have experienced episodes of sunburn with blistering more frequently than controls (P = 0.01). History of longterm exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) through working outdoors, leisure activities, living abroad in sunny climates, or sun holidays was similar between cases and controls. This study supports evidence from elsewhere that episodes of acute sunburn in susceptible individuals increase risk of MM and that longterm regular exposure to UV which is important in non-melanoma skin cancer does not play a major role in the development of MM.