Between October 1988 and November 1994, 100 patients with cutaneous metastases from malignant melanoma were treated by carbon dioxide laser ablation under local or general anaesthesia as appropriate. There were minimal postoperative complications and most wounds healed within 6 weeks. A total of 34 of the 53 patients in this series with stage IIIa disease were controlled with four or fewer laser ablations during the first year from presentation. This technique provides a simple effective alternative to hyperthermic isolated limb perfusion with melphalan. Patients with disease not controlled by laser can be considered for isolated limb perfusion.