Five human melanoma cell lines were investigated for their antioxidant activities. These metabolic data were correlated with cytogenetic analysis giving the relative numbers of chromosomes or chromosomal segments carrying the gene encoding for each enzyme. Particular attention was focused on the expression of superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2), whose gene, located on the long arm of chromosome 6 (6q), has been proposed as a tumour suppressor gene. The activity of glutathione peroxidase (GPX), glutathione reductase (GSR) and catalase appeared to be unrelated to the relative number of 3q, 8p and 11p arms which, respectively, carry their encoding genes. GPX activity paralleled that of total SOD activity, and GSR variations followed those of GPX, suggesting possible metabolic regulation. Both the activity and the amount of SOD1 immunoreactive protein correlated with the number of chromosomes 21, suggesting a gene dosage effect. The three cell lines with deletions of the 6q arm had lower SOD2 activity and less immunoreactive protein than the two cell lines without 6q deletion. In addition, they demonstrated high thymidine kinase and thymidylate synthetase activities, which are directly linked to the cell proliferation rate. These results strengthen the hypothesis that SOD2 has a function as a tumour suppressor gene, but also suggest that the expression of other antioxidant enzymes might be altered in human melanomas.