The purpose of this study was to examine which intracellular signalling systems influence the attachment of normal uveal melanocytes and uveal melanoma cells to extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins in vitro. Uveal melanocytes were found to attach strongly to fibronectin in preference to plastic, collagens type I, III or IV, or laminin. In contrast, uveal melanoma cells attached equally well to fibronectin and collagens I, III and IV in preference to plastic or laminin. Manipulation of intracellular cyclic AMP or protein kinase C had little, if any, effect on the attachment of either cell to fibronectin. In contrast, inhibition of calmodulin significantly inhibited the attachment of both normal and transformed cells, as did manipulating intracellular free calcium. We noted that the intracellular free calcium in melanoma cells was less than half that seen in melanocytes. Fibronectin, laminin and Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) were all capable of acutely increasing the intracellular free calcium in both cells. ECM-induced increases in calcium were more apparent in low density than high density cells and appeared more sustained in melanocytes than in melanoma cells. We conclude that both normal and neoplastic uveal melanocytes require an intracellular signal or signals which involves calcium and calmodulin in the few minutes following cell binding to ECM proteins in order for successful cell attachment to occur. While the transformed cell does not differ significantly from the normal cell in this respect, this dependency on calcium and calmodulin may nevertheless offer an approach for pharmacological intervention in the prevention or arrest of metastatic spread and merits further investigation.