Awareness about cutaneous malignant melanoma and sun protection was investigated in a national sample of 3961 adults. Awareness about malignant melanoma seems to have increased in England since the mid 1980s but it is lower in men, rhe under 25s, the elderly, those without a partner and the poorer socioeconomic groups. As mortality rates for melanoma are higher in elderly men than other age sex groups, the possibility for improved awareness and prevention needs to be explored further within this group. Most people in the survey knew about sun protection. Further primary prevention initiatives should be monitored, using markers for behaviour such as the incidence of sunburn, as the potential benefits ofa reduced incidence of skin cancer might not be seen for up to 20 years.