The incidence of melanoma is increasing at a rate faster than that for any other cancer in the United States and worldwide. Several factors show that this increase in incidence is real and not due to artifact. The rapid increase is not attributable to better overall counting of the cases of cancer (because the incidence of other cancers is decreasing). Furthermore, it is not due to changes in histologic criteria. Finally, the mortality rate from melanoma continues to increase at a time when survival rates are also increasing. This apparent paradox can be true only if the actual incidence is increasing at an even faster rate than the death rate. This dramatic increase in the incidence of melanoma highlights the need for improved methods of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment as melanoma becomes increasingly important as a public health issue.