Human pigmentation is a complex physical trait in which the membrane-associated transporter protein (MATP) plays an important role as it is involved in intracellular processing and trafficking of melanosomal proteins. Recently, pathogenic mutations in MATP have been shown to cause oculocutaneous albinism type 4, while other polymorphisms are known to have a role in normal pigmentation variation. We previously reported significant associations of two coding region polymorphisms with hair, skin, and eye color in Caucasians. Here we characterize the promoter region of MATP identifying two new transcription start sites and a novel duplication (c.−1176_−1174dupAAT). A total of 700 individuals from five different population groups (529 Caucasians, 38 Asians, 46 African Americans, 47 Australian Aborigines, and 40 Spanish Basques) were genotyped for known promoter polymorphisms c.−1721C>G (rs13289) and c.−1169G>A (rs6867641), as well as c.−1176_−1174dupAAT. Allele frequencies of all three polymorphisms were significantly different between population groups. In Caucasians, the −1721G, +dup, and −1169A alleles were significantly associated with olive skin color. The three promoter polymorphisms were found to be in linkage disequilibrium with each other but not with the two previously reported coding region polymorphisms. Functional analyses in a melanoma cell line showed that the promoter haplotype −1721G, +dup, −1169A significantly decreased MATP transcription. This report provides further evidence for the involvement of MATP in normal pigmentation variation by identifying associations between MATP alleles and skin color variation in Caucasians and demonstrating a functional significance of these polymorphisms. Hum Mutat 28(7), 710–717, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.