The albino (tyrosinase, Tyrc), brown (tyrosinase-related protein 1, Tyrp1b) and slaty (tyrosinase-related protein 2, tyrp2slt) loci are all involved in the regulation of melanogenesis. Phenotypes of inbred mice mutant at two or more of these loci are not always explicable by simple summation of the established or suspected catalytic functions of the gene products. These phenotypes suggest that relationships among the proteins extend beyond the obvious fact that they catalyze different steps in the same melanogenic pathway, and that they may also interact intimately in such a way that a mutation in one impacts the function of the other(s). Previous studies have attributed catalytic activities to each member of this trio; however, it has been difficult to study the proteins individually, either in vivo or in tissues or cells. Therefore, we undertook to transfect the genes, in revealing combinations, into COS-7 cells (which have no melanogenic apparatus of their own) to clarify the interacting functions of their encoded proteins. Specifically, we attempted to evaluate the effects of Tyrp1 and Tyrp2 proteins on tyrosinase protein. We report evidence that Tyrp1 stabilizes tyrosinase, confirming previous observations, and, in addition, demonstrate that Tyrp1 decreases tyrosinase activity. By contrast, Tyrp2 increases tyrosinase activity by stabilizing the protein. We conclude that both Tyrp1 and Tyrp2, in addition to other catalytic functions they may possess, act together to modulate tyrosinase activity.