The risk of malignant melanoma to an individual is strongly related to their total number of benign melanocytic naevi. To investigate the possibility that numbers of naevi may have an inherited basis, naevi were examined in 23 monozygotic and 22 dizygotic twin pairs. A strong correlation in total numbers of naevi 3 mm or more in diameter was observed between MZ twins (intraclass correlation 0.83), but there was no significant correlation between DZ twins (correlation -0.24). There was no increased concordance in presence of naevi 5 mm or more over that expected by chance, for MZ or DZ twins. The results suggest a strong inherited basis for total naevus count and hence melanoma risk, perhaps involving a number of interacting genes.