Exposure of hamster amelanotic melanoma cells to L-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA) resulted in a time dependent increase of cell pigmentation, tyrosinase concentration and activity with peak after 24 hours. Northern blot analysis showed a small but reproducible increase of tyrosinase mRNA after 3 hours and a decrease below the control level after 9 hours. After 24 and 48 hours tyrosinase mRNA was undetectable. It is suggested that L-DOPA or its oxidation products can stimulate intracellular tyrosinase concentration and regulate tyrosinase mRNA level both in positive and negative fashion. © 1991.