Several parallels between stem cell biology and tumour behaviour have been discovered in recent times. Such commonality is apparent in the unlimited capacity for cell division together with the lack of a differentiated phenotype in embryonic and adult stem cells, traits shared with tumour cells. Differentiation is a tightly regulated process that is mediated by the actions of multiple transcription factor families. The POU domain-containing family of transcription factors contains multiple mammalian members divided into six classes, which can be expressed broadly or in a cell-specific manner, and which are regulators of cell fate decisions of many different lineages. Target gene regulation can occur via a POU factor acting alone, or in combination with other POU proteins, ubiquitous co-activators or co-repressors, or other lineage restricted transcription factors. Aberrant levels of POU proteins have been found in several malignancies, including melanoma, connecting the otherwise developmentally restricted gene regulatory functions of POU transcription factors to the critical determinants of malignant transformation. Here, we focus on the role of the BRN2 (POU3F2/N-Oct-3) transcription factor in the melanocytic lineage where it may co-ordinate normal developmental cues that can be re-activated in melanoma. Recent studies have shown BRN2 to be responsive to MAPK pathway activation and to modulate the levels of MITF so as to suppress the differentiated melanocytic phenotype and to enhance tumour metastasis.