It is still unclear whether the sporadic form of dysplastic nevi (SDN) represents a premalignant lesion of malignant melanoma and whether genetic alterations are involved in the development of SDN. To determine whether p16INK4a and p53 genetic abnormalities could be associated with development of SDN, nevus cell nests were procured selectively from H & E-stained slide sections by using a modified microdissection technique and were screened for the presence of mutations and loss of heterozygosity (LOH) of p16INK4a and p53 genes using a polymerase chain reaction-based LOH, single-strand conformation polymorphism, and direct DNA sequencing analyses. Hemizygous deletion was detected in 9 of 12 informative cases (75%) for 9p21-22 (p16INK4a) at one or more loci and 60% (6/10) for 17p13 (p53). As for mutation, we found 3 missense mutations and 1 mutation in the first intron in p16INK4a and 2 missense mutations in p53. Among these mutations in p16INK4a and p53, 5 of 6 mutations were of the C:G to T:A transitional type; this is known to be related to ultraviolet radiation as previously confirmed in other skin cancers. This indicates that p16INK4a and p53 genetic alterations may play an important role in the evolution of SDN and may represent an early event in the development of malignant melanoma. Furthermore, ultraviolet radiation might be the predominant etiologic agent in the development of SDN.