Resistance of tumour cells to methylating and monochloroethylating agents in vitro and in vivo has been linked to levels of the DNA repair protein O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT). In a clinical trial of temozolomide in advanced malignant melanoma, the relationship between pretreatment MGMT levels in biopsies of cutaneous tumours and involved lymph nodes and clinical response to the drug has been studied. Among 50 evaluable patients, there were three complete responses (CR), four partial responses (PR), six with stable disease (SD) and 37 with progressive disease (PD), with an overall response rate of 14%. In 33 patients in whom MGMT level and clinical response could be evaluated, the tumour MGMT levels (fmol mg(-1) protein) were: CR, 158 +/- 119; PR, 607 +/- 481; NC, 171 +/- 101; PD, 185 +/- 42.3. Thus, measurements of pretreatment levels of MGMT in melanoma did not predict for response to temozolomide.