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The surface antigens of melanocytes from newborn and adult skin have been analyzed with monoclonal antibodies detecting cell surface antigens of malignant melanoma. Antigenic markers that distinguish early, intermediate, and mature stages in melanocyte differentiation have been defined. The characteristics of the normal melanocyte precursor have been inferred from the features of melanomas that express early markers of melanocyte differentiation. A rudimentary surface antigen map of cells undergoing melanocyte differentiation and a new classification of melanomas based on the expression of melanocyte differentiation antigens are proposed.