[en] BACKGROUND: Cells of melanocytic naevi and cutaneous malignant melanomas (MM) are surrounded by a basement membrane (BM). AIM: To scrutinize any difference between the deposits of alpha1 (IV) and alpha5 (IV) collagen chains in melanocytic naevi and MM. METHODS: A total of 27 common melanocytic naevi, 11 dysplastic naevi, 21 atypical naevi (melanocytomas) including Spitz and non-Spitz types, as well as 24 MM were studied. Their phenotypic and functional characteristics defined by immunohistochemistry using a panel of antibodies, including those directed to the alpha1 (IV), alpha3 (IV) and alpha5 (IV) collagen chains. RESULTS: Almost all naevi and half the melanocytomas exhibited a strong positivity for the alpha1 (IV) collagen chain. By contrast, the remaining melanocytomas and MM presented a heterogeneous staining pattern for the alpha1 (IV) collagen chain. One third of the naevi, 23% of the MM without cutaneous micrometastasis and 83% of MM with cutaneous micrometastasis showed discrete cytoplasmic positivity for the alpha5 (IV) collagen chain. All other melanocytic tumours were negative for this antibody. Rare MM cells in transepidermal migration were stained with the anti-alpha1 (IV) or alpha5 (IV) collagen chain antibodies. No immunoreactivity for the alpha3 (IV) collagen chain was disclosed in any of the samples. CONCLUSION: We report the expression of alpha1 (IV) and alpha5 (IV) collagen chains in naevi and MM. The inconsistent staining pattern for alpha1 (IV) collagen chain in phenotypically atypical melanocytomas and in MM highlight the heterogeneity in both cell differentiation and stroma-tumour interactions. This biological aspect may be related to neoplastic progression and influence metastatic potential.