Jumping spiders (Salticidae) have acute vision with some cells in the retina that are sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) spectra (< 400 nm). However, no study has documented the use of UV signals in salticids. To appreciate the function of UV vision, it is necessary to characterize the UV colours of salticids. In the present study, the UV and human-visible wavelengths of a tropical ornate salticid spider, Cosmophasis umbratica, were analysed using reflectance spectrometry to obtain evidence of sex-specific UV colours. An absolute sexual dimorphism in the UV colours of this salticid species was found. All of the body parts of adult males that are displayed to conspecifics during intra-specific interactions reflected UV (300–400 nm) light, whereas the adult females and juveniles did not reflect UV light from any body part. A great deal of variation was also found in the UV wavebands among males. This is the first full UV characterization of a salticid spider and the first study to demonstrate an extreme sexual UV dimorphism in jumping spiders. The findings obtained provide evidence that UV reflectance may comprise important sexual signals in jumping spiders. © 2006 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2006, 89, 397–406.