Fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of malignant melanoma (MM), but the role of other FGFs and their receptors (FGFRs) is not elucidated. To determine whether FGF1 and FGFR1 may be involved in MM growth in vivo, we have studied the expression of the FGF1 and FGFR1 genes in 77 fresh MM biopsy samples, using RT-PCR analysis. Samples of benign nevi, normal skin and carcinoma cell lines were included as controls. Using RT-PCR analysis, expression of FGF1 and FGFR1 was observed in 69/77 and 68/77 cases, respectively. Immunohistochemical detection of the FGFR1 protein was positive in reactive stromal cells and at a much lower level in neoplastic cells. In situ hybridization experiments demonstrated FGFR1 mRNA mainly located in the stromal component. Southern blot analysis of genomic DNA prepared from MM tumors did not show any structural alteration of the FGFR1 gene. There was no correlation between FGF1/FGFR1 expression and the usual clinicopathological parameters of MM. We conclude that FGF1 and FGFR1 are frequently co-expressed in MM, a situation that may contribute to aberrant autocrine and paracrine pathways. Due to the absence of correlation with clinico-pathological parameters, this expression cannot be used as a marker of prognosis in the management of MM patients.