Diacylglycerol, a protein kinase C activator, induces and enhances melanogenesis in vitro and in vivo, providing evidence that melanogenesis may be a protein kinase C-mediated process. Melanogenesis is also induced by ultraviolet A radiation and potentiated by a combination of 8-methoxypsoralen and ultraviolet A radiation. We incubated cultured normal human melanocytes with 8-methoxypsoralen, irradiated the cells with ultraviolet A radiation, and detected formation of 8-methoxypsoralen-phospholipid photoadducts. The 8-methoxypsoralen-phospholipid photoadducts isolated from melanocytes were substrates for phospholipase A2 to generate 8-methoxypsoralen-fatty acid adducts. We found that 8-methoxypsoralen-fatty acid photoadducts prepared in vitro could be substituted for diacylglycerol to activate protein kinase C in a cell-free system. We propose that 8-methoxypsoralen-fatty acid adducts activate protein kinase C to potentiate ultraviolet A radiation-induced melanogenesis. This proposal links melanogenesis mediated by protein kinase C with that induced by a combination of 8-methoxypsoralen and ultraviolet A radiation.