During the past several decades, there has been a substantial increase in the incidence of cutaneous melanoma among all caucasian populations. The number of deaths due to cutaneous malignant melanoma has also increased in most fair-skinned populations throughout the world in the past few decades. Trends in melanoma incidence worldwide are examined. The most recent data on the mortality from cutaneous melanoma are reported. The role of different environmental, genetic and host factors in the aetiology of melanoma is discussed.