One-hundred-and-seventy-seven cases of cutaneous malignant melanoma were reported to the Swedish National Cancer Registry in subjects below the age of 20 during the period 1973-92. One-hundred-and-fifty-four (87%) were re-examined histologically, and the original diagnosis of primary cutaneous malignant melanoma was verified in 88%. The age-specific mean annual incidence rate increased to 0.5/100,000 in 1983-92 from 0.2/100,000 in 1973-82. Cutaneous malignant melanoma remained extremely rare in children below the age of 12, where only two cases were found. In subjects aged 12-19, the incidence doubled to 93 cases in the second 10-year period compared to 41 in the first. In boys, most of the melanomas occurred on the trunk, and, in girls, on the legs. Sixty-three percent of the melanomas were of the superficial spreading type, which also was the most rapidly increasing type of melanoma. These results emphasize the importance of surveillance and intensified preventive measures in protecting children and adolescents from the harmful effects of excessive exposure to the sun.