This review aims to provide an up-to-date view on our understanding of the molecular genetics of melanoma development. It gives an overview of genes (and loci) currently known to be substantially involved in melanoma predisposition and progression. Broadly, the review falls into 3 sections: genes/loci involved in melanoma susceptibility through germline mutation, tumor suppressor genes somatically mutated or deleted in melanoma, and oncogenes mutated somatically in melanoma. The main cellular pathways in which these genes are involved are summarized and discussed. From this it is evident that abberations of cell cycle regulation, DNA repair and receptor-mediated signal transduction are important for melanocytic neoplasia.