Upon the introduction of extensive sampling protocols of sentinel node biopsies, pathologists are increasingly confronted with small melanoma metastases. Using conventional histology, it proves sometimes difficult or impossible to differentiate small melanoma metastases from lymph-node nevi. Loss of the tumour suppressor gene p16 has been shown to be associated with tumour progression of melanoma. We investigated nevus and melanoma cells for the presence of the product of the gene p16, using immunohistochemistry. All nevus cells, independent of their location (nodal or skin) displayed an extensive nuclear and cytoplasmic staining for p16. In contrast, all cells of melanoma metastases, except one skin metastasis, lacked nuclear staining for p16. These findings indicate that p16 is a reliable marker to distinguish lymph-node nevi from melanoma metastasis.