From a great number of studies there is clear evidence that several extracellular proteolytic enzymes play an important role in various tumour-related processes. This review focusses on proteases in cutaneous melanoma. The current knowledge on and insights into the involvement of proteases in tumour progression are based on in vitro studies, on animal model studies and on investigations using patient material. In the field of melanoma, these three modalities are also applied to the investigation on the impact of proteases. Consequently, the current review summarizes research on both human melanoma cell lines and human melanocytic lesions. In addition, results obtained from animal experiments are included.